Date March 10, 2023
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Brown student wins ‘Jeopardy!’, will be youngest contestant on Tournament of Champions

First-year student Justin Bolsen took first place in the ‘Jeopardy! High School Reunion’ tournament, landing him a $100,000 prize and a spot in the next Tournament of Champions.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Justin Bolsen bet it all to claim the top prize in the “Jeopardy! High School Reunion” Tournament. Well, all but $9.

In the final round that aired Thursday, March 9, the first-year Brown student and Georgia native wagered $10,991 on a question about a 19th-century “truly tragic street lamp” and “high and skinny pyramid of iron ladders.”

All three contestants answered the Final Jeopardy! question correctly (What is the Eiffel tower?), but Bolsen’s wager was the largest. With a final score of $35,561, he edged out the second-place winner, Vanderbilt University junior Jackson Jones, by little more than $350.

"It’s hard to describe exactly in words how I felt after the final, but 'euphoric, thrilled and shocked' might give you a good sense," Bolsen said. 

In addition to perennial bragging rights, Bolsen earned a $100,000 prize and a guaranteed spot in the next “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions, where, at 18 years old, he will be the youngest contestant.

Justin Bolsen wins 'Jeopardy!'


The first-year Brown University student bet big — and it paid off.

Bolsen's winning episode was pre-taped in January, but he was sworn to secrecy when it came to the results. He went about his normal life, successfully keeping his victory under wraps for more than a month.

"It was so, so hard to not say anything about winning, especially with the abundance of emotion and excitement that I felt at the end of the tournament," Bolsen said. "I think I did a good job of keeping myself composed, but I promise that my insides were screaming at me every day to let out the secret." 

Bolsen said his lifetime of trivia experience, as well as the support he received from his fellow Brown Quiz Bowl teammates, were instrumental in positioning him for the win.

“It feels like all the Quiz Bowl stuff I’ve done, all the coaching I had — I had really great middle school and high school Quiz Bowl coaches — I owe a lot of this to them," Bolsen said. "[Brown] is a really open, collaborative environment, so I had a lot of friends who helped me study, too, which was nice.”

He will tap into that same support in preparation for the Tournament of Champions, which begins in the fall. 

"Being on the [Quiz Bowl] team will probably be a big help in expanding my knowledge base," Bolsen said. "I’ve received some great study tips and websites from my fellow High School Reunion Tournament competitors as well, and I’ll be keeping those in mind as I continue what I’ve been doing to study."

Though Bolsen is among good “Jeopardy!” company at Brown, where several students have appeared on the show, he finds himself in a small winner’s circle. Most recently, Dhruv Gaur — now a research data analyst at Brown’s Population Studies and Training Center — represented the University as a first-year student in 2018, ultimately capturing the College Championship.

Bolsen, who first appeared on the “Jeopardy!” stage four years ago as a high school freshman, was thrilled to be reunited with his former fellow contestants, with whom he had cultivated close friendships.

“Just seeing everybody in general ... the reunion itself and seeing all my friends again,” Bolsen said in a Boston Globe interview, “even beyond winning, that was my favorite part.”

[Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Bolsen will be the youngest contestant to ever appear on the "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions. It has been updated to reflect that Bolsen will be the youngest contestant to appear in the upcoming Tournament of Champions.]