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Blacksburg chaplain on Jeopardy!

Blacksburg chaplain on Jeopardy!

The Burgs news site reports that “the Rev. Scott Russell, campus minister (at Virginia Tech) and associate rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg, competed recently on Jeopardy! The show he’s on will air Monday.”

Watch the promo here.

Episcopal News Service reports on how it turned out:

“It was a privilege to get as far as I did,” Russell told Episcopal News Service about his Dec. 5 appearance, adding that the other two contestants he face were “academically inclined and they really out-competed me.”

Russell matched his knowledge against Brandon Barnwell, a linguistics graduate student at University of California-Santa Barbara, and Bhibha Das, a post-doctoral researcher in physical activity and public health at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Das won in part by betting all the money she had accumulated on a Daily Double answer and then asking the correct question.

To play the game, which has been on television since 1985, contestants are presented answers in one of six subject categories and they must respond in the form of a question. Contestants earn money based on the dollar amount assigned to each answer.

Russell, associate rector at Christ Church in Blacksburg, Virginia and campus minister at Virginia Tech’s Canterbury House, earned his spot on the show by first doing well on Jeopardy’s online test. He was then invited to a regional contest.

Russell learned that the show producers aren’t just interested in the fact that all his life people have been telling him he is so good at trivia games that he ought to be on Jeopardy. The producers “want to make sure you’re fun and engaging, and that you’re not just some trivia nerd,” he said.

The show doesn’t keep track of how many ordained ministers or member of religious orders have appeared on the show, but Russell said that during his journey to Jeopardy he ran into another ordained Episcopalian who fit the “fun-and-engaging” and “not-a-trivia-nerd” criteria. When he was in Washington, D.C. for the taping of the regional contest, Russell said, he chanced upon Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, who told him he had been a Jeopardy contestant years ago.

“He didn’t win either,” Russell said with a chuckle.

He may have placed third, but Russell still went home with some money. Second- and third-place contestants receive $2,000 and $1,000. Russell said his winnings covered his Hollywood trip expenses with a little left over.

Russell wrote Dec. 6 about his experience in a blog post titled “I’ll take ‘It’s Harder than it Looks’ for $2000, Alex!”


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Pete Haynsworth

But, but … “Associate Rector at Christ Episcopal Church” was just in the ENS writeup, read by how many dozens of persons?

Once again, this Jeopardy hound recalls “Chaplain at Virginia Tech” as the entirety of the gent’s vocation mentioned on Jeopardy, viewed by, um, millions.

An opportunity to advance the Anglican/Episcopal brand missed?

Ann Fontaine

Associate Rector at Christ Episcopal Church generally means one is an Episcopalian.


I caught some of the ep (not the interviews), and yeah, I thought from the collar he was RC.

JC Fisher

Pete Haynsworth

Was there mention that he was Episcopalian &/or a priest? If so, this viewer missed it.

Personable fellow. Roman collar!

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