Jeopardy Contestant Jacob Ayres

Jacob Ayres with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy

San Diego (March 7, 2013) – Just about everyone wants to hear about his experiences as a competitor on "Jeopardy," but there's a lot more to the story of Jacob Ayres, '14 (JD).

After graduating from UCLA with a joint degree in Communications and Environmental Studies, Ayres worked for the summer before law school at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as a photo caravan driver. He got to know some of the animals who came in regularly to be fed from the truck, especially the giraffes and one surprisingly mellow 4,000 pound Indian rhino. "Maybe the most fun part of the job was being the first person in the morning to spot the newborn baby antelopes and gazelles and getting to radio in the birth announcements to my supervisor."

Ayres entered law school with realistic expectations because his girlfriend had already completed her 1L year at Loyola. "I knew it would be a lot of hard work, that I'd be leading a monastic lifestyle." Ayres had a good first year and was invited to join the San Diego Law Review. His favorite part of law school so far has ben working on his comment, which has the intriguing working title, "Murder was the Case: The Admissibility of Defendant-Authored Rap Lyrics in Criminal Trials."

Ayres took time last spring and summer to try out for and compete on "Jeopardy." He'd tried out for the college tournament twice when he was at UCLA, but had just missed making the show, so he decided to make his bid to compete on regular "Jeopardy." "I took an online test completing 50 fill-in-the-blank questions, with eight seconds allowed for each question. I made it to the next level and completed another 50 question test and an interview. This time, the questions appeared on a screen and were read aloud, more like the actual show. Next, there was a mock round with three competitors, and more interview questions to see if we were articulate and reasonably personable. Then I had to wait to hear if I'd be on the actual show."

Finally last summer, Ayres learned that he had been selected. The taping was to take place August 22 in Culver City. Five episodes of the show are filmed in a day, with the filming occurring just two days every week. Competitors bring three changes of clothes so they can have a new outfit if they progress to the next rounds. Between tapings of the five shows, the audience is allowed to ask questions of the host, Alex Trebek. "While I was there, someone asked him what movie made him cry the most, and he said it was the ending to 'Dances with Wolves.' He got tears in his eyes just talking about it."

Ayres won the first round, defeating a five-day champion and earning $28,201. That was the last show taped on a Friday, so he had to drive back to Culver City the following Monday, coming in second place and adding $2,000 to his total winnings.

Because most competitors know many of the answers (or questions, since this is "Jeopardy"), a big part of succeeding on the show, according to Ayres, is learning how to deal with the clicker. Once Alex finishes reading an answer, a light on each competitor's podium goes on, and only then can the competitor signal. "If you signal before the light goes on, there is an automatic delay before you can re-click. That's why you'll see the competitors frantically pressing their clickers. The trick is to get into a perfect rhythm, anticipating when Alex will finish reading each answer." The other key to winning, Jacob thinks, is knowing how to bid on Final Jeopardy. "You're given scratch paper so you can calculate your bet. There's plenty of advice out there on the internet about the smartest way to wager, but in the tension of the moment, it's not easy to make a lot of complicated calculations."

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Recognized for the excellence of its faculty, curriculum and clinical programs, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law enrolls approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 81 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 23rd worldwide in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.


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