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Queens Chronicle

Does Queens have a ‘Jeopardy!’ winner?

Yes! Astoria resident Noah Rachels wins big on trivia game show

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 10:30 am

Can Queens claim the next Ken Jennings?

Well, no but the $15,099 Astoria resident Noah Rachels won on the game show “Jeopardy!” is nothing to turn a nose up at.

The 34-year-old fundraiser for Columbia University beat his opponents during the show aired last Thursday night, but then lost the next day — sending him back home.

Rachels started his love for trivia around the dinner table in Kerhonkson, NY, where growing up his family used to watch the game show while eating.

“We played a fair amount of Trivial Pursuit as well,” Rachels said.

He gleaned knowledge of the arts while studying music at Moravian College in Pennsylvania and then continued to round out his repertoire of “seemingly useless bits of information” throughout his day-to-day life.

In January he took the “Jeopardy!” test, available online to anyone. Unlike a driver’s test or spelling quizzes, test takers don’t know their fate right away.

Rachels didn’t know he had passed until May, when a member of the “Jeopardy!” staff asked him to audition in person in Manhattan. He showed up and participated in a mock “Jeopardy!” round and interview, which made him eligible to play for real over the next 18 months.

“I tried out once before 10 or 11 years ago and they never called me back,” Rachels said. “I kind of thought it would be the same sort of thing.”

His luck changed in July with a phone call. The game show casting crew said they would like him to compete in Los Angeles in August.

Once on the other coast he put his bank of facts to use answering all the trivia host Alex Trebek threw his way — saying he recalled only one especially tough question.

He advanced to a second day of “Jeopardy!” competition, which aired last Friday. Unfortunately that ended his one-day run as game show king.

Nevertheless he didn’t just take away his winnings. He can now say he met one of the United States’ most recognized game show hosts, Trebek.

“He was a lot of fun,” Rachels said. “He’s much more relaxed and humorous — you probably don’t get that from watching him on TV — pretty laid back.”

As for what’s in store for his loot?

“Save it,” Rachels said. “I don’t know what the tax rate is on game show winnings. I don’t want to spend it all.”

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