Alex read the question in his usual sing-song almost taunting lilt, and the gratingly familiar Final Jeopardy tune began. The three contestants scribbled their answers with a furious intensity. The stakes were high; the winner would, after all, proceed to the final tournament of Teen Jeopardy and the game had been a close match until now. Despite his best efforts and some very good luck (who knew they would put a question about Tony Hawk, his all-time favorite skater/ sports hero, AND that he would get a Double Jeopardy for that question?), Karan was not as far ahead as he would have liked. Sarah and Anurag had put up a good fight and, going into Final Jeopardy he was tied with Sarah at $12,800, with Anurag trailing closely behind with $11,600.
Luckily, the final question in the "Nonfiction Writers" category was easy: "On July 21, 1944 she wrote, "I'm finally getting optimistic... an assassination attempt has been made on Hitler's life." The answer was obvious, as every high school student worth his salt had read The Diary of Anne Frank at least once. This would all come down to bidding strategy and if he was anything, Karan was strategic. Surely everyone would get it right, so his only chance was that Sarah would underbid. He crossed his fingers behind his back twice for luck, as he always did, and bet it all.
Since he was in third place, Anurag went first and put the correct answer: Anne Frank. He had bet all $11,600, but that wasn't going to be enough for the win. Sorry, buddy - you actually seemed pretty cool. Sarah was next and after she revealed her correct answer came the moment of truth: she hadn't bet it all! She only bet $9500!
Karan was beaming. He had won! Even though he had promised himself that he wouldn't smile during the show (he didn't want his braces to reflect the light into the cameras - so very dorky) he couldn't help himself as he grinned from ear to ear. His eyes searched the audience for his mom and dad as he thought about how very proud they would be.
But, something was wrong. Alex was saying something as he read Karan's answer and it sure didn't look congratulatory. Karan could barely hear, his heart was pouding so loudly in his ears. "..while you were writing that down, our researchers were going through all of their research materials. And we could find no instance of the young lady being called "Annie", not Anne, which was her name. So it is going to be bad news..."
What?!?! Suddenly, Anurag was walking across the stage to shake Alex's hand, and Anurag was waving to his parents in the crowd, and people were clapping for Anurag, the winner. That asshole.
ANNIE? ANNIE? ANNIE FRANK? Karan knew better and yet he had still written "Annie Frank" instead of "Anne Frank". He had known the answer and he had lost Teen Jeopardy on a technicality. On an "I".
His blinked back tears, as he shook Anurag's hand and congratulated him on his victory.
I was inspired to write this blogpost by the epsiode of Teen Jeopardy that aired yesterday (August 5, 2009 - you can read the transcript here http://boards.sonypictures.com/boards/showthread.php?t=38976). Poor Karan, my heart went out to him as I watched the show - it was one of those rare moments when you know you are witnessing something that will haunt someone forever. He was so excited when he thought he won. Just more evidence that there is not enough money in the world to convince me to relive the teenage years.