If you follow the game show Jeopardy!, you may have heard of this recently:
Me: “What is Chicago?”
Alex: “Ooh, sorry.” (actual words might’ve been different)
Jelisa Castrodale and 100 million other Americans: “What is New Orleans ?!”
Let me just be clear: I love New Orleans.
Eleven years ago, I spent New Year’s Eve for the year 2000 on Canal Street. Had some beverages along Bourbon Street. Saw Galactic at the Masonic Temple for the 12/31/99 midnight champagne show. Drank at Laffitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Walked around Jackson Square and the French Quarter. Played blackjack at 6am while falling asleep at Harrah’s.
I love New Orleans.
I also know who won the Super Bowl. Seriously. I really do! I watched it, just like every other Super Bowl since Joe Montana and a certain running back with number 33 beat the Bengals. I was rooting for the Saints to win it all. Pro football is my favorite sport and I even have Marques Colston on my fantasy football team, and yet I put Chicago. Why?
The short answer is that I misread the question and went down the wrong path in my mind. The question wasn’t “Who won the Superbowl this year?” , the question was SPORTS AND THE MEDIA: “On Feb. 8, 2010 the headline in a major newspaper in this city read, ‘Amen! After 43 Years, Our Prayers Are Answered'”
I skimmed it and immediately thought of which team had last won in the 60s and thought of the NHL and the Blackhawks. I didn’t focus or pay attention to the February part. Otherwise, I would’ve immediately realized it was talking about the Super Bowl and not the NHL playoffs which are in May.
Have I mentioned that Super Bowl 44 was the “most-watched program of any kind in American television history” and had over 100 million viewers?
With an average US audience of 106.5 million viewers, this was the most-watched Super Bowl ever as well as the most-watched program of any kind in American television history, beating the 27-year-long record previously held by the final episode of M*A*S*H, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen“, watched by 105.97 million viewers. An estimated 153.4 million total viewers watched all or part of the game.
Needless to say, this Final Jeopardy! wasn’t as hard as H.R. Block…
So, why didn’t I pay attention and read the question more carefully? Not to make excuses, but I think it was from lack of sleep. The night before my first five games were taped I slept 9 hours straight through. I felt like a million bucks that morning. The next night, after I’d won five games in one day, including setting the single game record, I could barely sleep at all. I think I got about 5 hours of sleep and I kept waking up throughout the night. If you’re ever lucky enough to be on Jeopardy!, make sure you get your rest the night before!
These are reasons too, not excuses. Reading comprehension and physical preparedness are parts of the game. I was lacking both that morning in the studio. I certainly don’t want to take anything from Jelisa’s victory. She kept it close and got the Final Jeopardy! right. I got it wrong. And that’s all she wrote. No, actually, that wasn’t all she wrote: you can read her hilarious writeup of the episode here.
After I got back from Los Angeles, where Jeopardy! is taped, it seemed as if I couldn’t escape the Saints. There was Drew Brees on the Sports Almanac in the bookstore, Saints preseason games on the TVs in the electronics store, Saints, Saints, Saints, I could not escape them.
But I was cool with it. I have no complaints. I got to be on the game show that I’ve watched and loved for 20+ years and I lucked into the best game in the 6000 episode, 27 year history of the show. If I had lost my very next game after that on a question of “This color ends in -urple”, I still would’ve been thrilled. But I didn’t lose my next game, I won four more games, set the first five games record, and finished 3rd overall in regular season winnings.
That day and a half in the studio was like a dream come true. I felt like…
I felt like I had won the Super Bowl.