Dan Tran ’15G won $7,600 on Jeopardy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dan Tran on Jeopardy

The world of Internet snarkiness is finally giving UNH grad student Dan Tran a break. 

It’s been about four months since Tran appeared on the television show Jeopardy!, and life has returned to normal. Well, normal plus about $7,600 in winnings that Tran brought back thanks to his trivia acumen and quick-trigger buzzer finger. 

But his Internet infamy came not from his winnings but from the always-awkward “small talk” segment of the show, where host Alex Trebek goes to each contestant and chats them up. 

Tran told a story about how once, when travelling with friends, his weary mind mistakenly thought the sun shining in the sky was actually a bright full moon. 

Internet haters quickly jumped on the awkward moment—dubbing Tran an aspiring astronomy student who doesn’t know the difference between the moon and the sun. The snippet was picked up everywhere from Fox News to Reddit. 

“It bothered me for about a day,” says Tran, whose embarrassing moment was quickly drown out by words of congratulations from friends, family and colleagues. 

But the laidback Tran took it all in stride. 

“When I saw myself on Gawker.com, I thought that was pretty cool,” he says with a chuckle.  Tran is proud of his TV appearance, which saw him stay for two episodes, and bring home a nice chunk of prize money. 

“I think I have a better than average memory, and a lot of trivia is reaching back to something you learned a long time ago in middle school English or high school history,” he said. 

Tran hasn’t blown his winnings on anything big — he might like to take a trip with some of the money, and has bought incidentals here and there. 

“As my fellow grad students will attest, we don’t make a lot of money, so I’ll gladly take whatever I can earn from a game show,” Tran says.

Want to try your hand at appearing on Jeopardy? Follow this advice from Dan Tran: 

Know your presidents. The leader of the free world is a popular category on the show, so know some obscure facts about everyone from Millard Fillmore to Gerald Ford.

Have your fingers ready. Many times, all three contestants know the answer, but it just comes down to who has the faster buzzer finger. 

Watch the show — a lot. Watching will give you a better feel for the show, and you’ll see some categories that occur repeatedly. You’ll also get to practice phrasing all your answers in the form of a question. 


Originally published in UNH MagazineWinter 2015 Issue