AU freshman competed on "Jeopardy!” for a second time for High School Reunion Tournament

Teagan O’Sullivan reunited with her former competitors on Feb. 23

AU freshman competed on "Jeopardy!” for a second time for High School Reunion Tournament

Teagan O'Sullivan with "Jeopardy!" host Mayim Bialik 

Standing behind the podium inscribed “Teagan” with the buzzer in hand, then-high school freshman Teagan O’Sullivan honed in on her trivia knowledge despite the awe and excitement of competing on the “Jeopardy!” Teen Tournament.  

Now O’Sullivan, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, has stepped back onto the set and into that competitive headspace to compete in the “Jeopardy!” High School Reunion Tournament. The tournament was filmed in late January and aired on Feb. 23.

“Getting that call and going through the whole process again was so unexpected and just so wildly otherworldly,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan said her fascination with trivia began when she was in elementary school. Wanting to gain “as much knowledge as possible” on topics such as history, this later led her to academic games, she said.

“I had a lot of interest in just accruing knowledge and facts and that translated into when I did academic games, and then I did a lot of quiz bowl and [a] lot of history bee,” O’Sullivan said. 

While O’Sullivan competed in academic competitions and strengthened her love for learning, she said she realized she could take her trivia knowledge to the next level. 

Taking the “Jeopardy!” quiz landed O’Sullivan on the 2019 “Jeopardy!” Teen Tournament, where she finished as a semifinalist. Now, she and 26 other former teen contestants faced off once again in a 14-day special event.  

After getting the call about the reunion tournament, O’Sullivan said she practiced her skills during trivia nights at Across the Pond in Dupont Circle with her friends and even with a Georgetown University student who would be her competitor. O’Sullivan said this was her way of keeping up her family’s trivia night tradition.

“It's kind of a family thing, we go to bar trivia all the time, so that’s always kind of been a way I've been able to do [trivia],” O’Sullivan said.

The trivia trips continued over the holiday break with her family, while O’Sullivan said she also prepared for the tournament by reading books, listening to Crash Course videos and playing Protobowl, a multiplayer quiz bowl website. 

O’Sullivan said she reunited with other contestants from the high school tournament when she traveled to Los Angeles for the taping in January. While going head-to-head for the grand prize of $100,000, O’Sullivan said the contestants do share a special bond and were able to reunite at the hotel where they stayed during the taping.

“We all know each other very well, and it was very cool to obviously see how far we've come in the past four years,” she said. 

While O’Sullivan’s whole family attended the tapings of the teen tournament, she said only her mom, grandfather and younger sister attended this year. Sworn to secrecy, the family is divided in who knows the outcome of the tournament.

O'Sullivan said she does not know how her family of five kept the game results a secret for six months after the initial tournament. Now, she said, it is much easier since there were only a few weeks between the taping in January and the airing of the show.   

Although O’Sullivan’s other sister did not attend the taping of the reunion tournament, O’Sullivan assumed her mother had told her the results, which she did not. Unaware of the results, O’Sullivan’s sister even made a bracket for the tournament.

“She's watching it with fresh eyes and she's like ‘Teagan you cannot say anything,’” O’Sullivan recalled her sister saying. 

O’Sullivan’s sister is joining her for the airing of the quarterfinal games on Feb. 23, which they watched at a floor event in Anderson Hall. 

“You have to prevent yourself from saying anything,” O’Sullivan said. “You want to give commentary on the episode because you know what’s going on.”

O’Sullivan lost in the quarterfinals on Feb. 23, ending with a final score of $11,602. O’Sullivan said competing on the show again is still a “surreal experience” and said she is happy to revisit this journey she started as a freshman in high school. 

“I got to examine the ways it has had an impact on my development and who I am today, which is really cool,” she said.  

This story was edited by Maeve Fishel, Zoe Bell, Jordan Young and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Leta Lattin and Luna Jinks. 

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