Chin poses with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

Credit: Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

MIT Student Lilly Chin On Her Jeopardy! College Championship Win

March 1, 2017

MIT Student Lilly Chin won the Jeopardy! College Championships Feb. 24. The 21 year-old senior from Decatur, Ga., went through several rounds of answering in the form of a question before being named the winner and taking home $100,000 in prize money. We chatted with Chin, who majors in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, to learn more about her experience on the show.

How did you get to the show?

My RA (resident advisor) had gone onto the show a couple years ago, and when the test came out for this year he encouraged everyone to take it. You have to do well on the online test, and then you get invited to audition.

Why did you decide to try out?

I had done trivia competitions in high school and enjoyed that and quiz bowl and other things. When my RA suggested I try out, I wasn’t expecting to get in, I just wanted to have some fun with it.

How did you prepare?

Like I mentioned, I did trivia competitions in high school, so I looked at old materials from that, and I watched old games of the show. They have a whole archive of questions, so I looked at that. I also practiced buzzing in because the timing is different from other quiz bowls, you have to wait for Alex to finish speaking before you can buzz in.

What was it like being on the show?

The production aspect was the most interesting part. I had done TV crew in high school, and done things like filming my school’s football games, but seeing the directors and cameramen on a professional level was really cool. Everything was pretty smooth, since they’ve been doing it for so long. Everyone is extremely extroverted, which I guess is Hollywood. The contestants were nice, happy, and excited, even though we were competing against each other. We are all friends on Facebook, we got dinner when competition was over and things like that.

 Was there anything that you were surprised to learn about how the show works?

The biggest thing I was surprised by was how the editing works. You really don’t get sense of the space when you watch it on TV, such as the distance from question grid to podium.

You couldn’t let anyone know you won since the last episode aired after you all taped. How did you keep such a big secret?

I just didn’t tell anyone, because I knew as soon as I told one person it would be all over the place. I didn’t tell my mom and dad.

What are you going to do with your winnings?

I’m need use them for college. It would be nice to travel. I wanted to go to London for Spring Break, but I may go to D.C. and visit the Navy contestant and Georgetown contestant [from the Jeopardy! College Championships].

What are your plans for the future?

I’m planning to attend graduate school for robotics. I already got into MIT and Stanford, so I’ll be making those decisions. There’s also the Jeopardy! tournament of champions coming up with everyone who’s ever won.  


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