Haley Zapal [Jeopardy!]
Haley Zapal [Jeopardy!]

John Presloid, a research assistant in the department of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Toledo, saw his four-day reign as Jeopardy! champion end with a loss to Atlanta copywriter Haley Zapal, and a total $94,200 in winnings over his five days on the show.

Zapal finished with $27,400, while Presloid added to his total $2,000, the prize awarded to second-place finishers on the answer-and-question show.

Presloid finished “Double Jeopardy!” with $13,800 to Zapal’s $14,200. They and third place finisher Julie Bender, a public transportation consultant from Philadelphia, all gave the correct response to the “Final Jeopardy!” question: These 2 Were Named for a European “Theologian Who Believed in Predestination” & a “Philosopher with a Dim View of Human Nature.”

The correct question: Who were “Calvin & Hobbes.”

On the previous show, Presloid added $25,000 to his total haul by defeating a pair of contestants that included Kelsey Barcomb, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow who finished second, winning $2,000. Barcomb works in the lab of Christopher Ford, PhD, in the department of pharmacology at the University of Colorado Denver. Ford’s lab focuses on the synaptic mechanisms that regulate transmission by neuromodulators.

“I took the most recent online test and then was invited for an in-person audition. I honestly thought that I botched the audition, so I was shocked when I got the call from Culver City saying that I made it on the show,” Barcomb told GEN. She recalled how as a child, she and her family would watch the show together every night.

“I had a great time filming Jeopardy and it was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had. Everyone I met was super nice and I loved the thrill of the competition,” Barcomb added. “I just wish that I could do it again.”

Finishing in third place yesterday was Humzah Qureshi, a Washington, D.C., attorney who won $1,000.

Presloid earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from the University of Toledo in 2004, and four years later earned his master of science degree in biomedicine. He has spent the last four years working in the lab of Mark Wooten, PhD, professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Toledo, whose lab specializes in studying Lyme disease and melioidosis, a bacterial infection common in tropical climates.

Presloid recalled being a lifelong avid viewer of the show who had first auditioned to be a contestant a week after he turned 18. Presloid fulfilled his ambition in October 2018 after his fourth in-person audition.

“Oh, I lost my mind. I was actually at work. I was busy doing an experiment,” he said in an interview published by WTOL, the TV station that carries Jeopardy! in the Toledo region.

To prepare for Jeopardy!, Presloid said, he studied areas of knowledge in which he did not feel completely comfortable, such as fine art. When the time came to record the show, Presloid told WTOL, the staff gave the contestants a practice round, allowing them to get out their jitters and get comfortable responding to Jeopardy!’s clues in the form of a question.

“I thought it was going to be very serious and I’d be really nervous. But I just had a blast the entire time,” he told the University of Toledo in a news release. “One of the things they tell you is they want a poker face; they want you to look serious and not give anything away.”

“One of the handlers kind of jokingly wagged her finger at me for smiling, but she was like, ‘Question right, question wrong — you’re always smiling or laughing. That is your poker face.’ It was just so much fun.”

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