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Jeopardy! Teen Tournament facts for kids

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The Jeopardy! Teen Tournament is a yearly tournament on the American television game show Jeopardy!. It features middle school and high school students between the ages of thirteen and eighteen.

The tournament plays like the Tournament of Champions. 15 contestants play in a two week tournament. The first five games are the quarterfinals, with three new contestants each day. The winners of the five games move on to the semi-finals. The four losing contestants with the highest scores also move on as "wild card" players. If there is a tie at the end of a game, a Final Jeopardy!-type answer is given, and the first player to ring in with the correct response wins the game. If all three players have a score of zero, none of the contestants move on to the semi-finals, and another wild card spot is added. The next three games are the semi-final games. The three winners of the semi-finals move on to the finals. The last two games are the two-day finals. In both games, the contestants start with zero scores, and the contestants' final scores from the two days are added together to see who is the winner. The contestant with the highest score from the two days wins. The other two contestants win smaller cash prizes.

Contestant selection

1990s

Would-be contestants mailed postcards with their names and addresses to Jeopardy!. 1,200 teens were selected at random from the postcard entries and were invited to come (at their own expense) to one of four regional test centers (e.g. Houston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles) to take a timed written qualifying examination with the 50 clues read by Alex Trebek on a video monitor at the front of an exam room. Passing scorers were invited back for an interview and mock game using an electronic buzzer system. Their photographs are taken for their files, and they are asked to fill out a short information sheet with interesting facts about themselves that may be later used by Alex Trebek during the interview portion of the show. Selected contestants and alternates were notified that they had been chosen to appear on the show one to two months later. They are then flown to Los Angeles to tape the show. Taping occurs over a period of two days, with the five quarterfinals played on the first day and the three semifinals and two final games played on the second day. Accommodations were provided for the contestants at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, with taping taking place at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.

2000s

Contestants registered on the Jeopardy! web site rather than submitting postcards. As before, a select number of registrants were invited to audition and take a written test at a regional audition. Accommodations for contestants are provided at the Hilton in Universal City, California.

2006–present

All web site registrants take a 50-question timed online test at one set test time, usually late February. The test is given using Adobe Flash and takers are given 15 seconds per clue to type in their answers. A random selection of those who pass the test are invited to attend regional auditions in November at 4 locations around the United States at which another 50-question written test is given, followed by interviews and mock games. The number of students selected for the regional auditions is usually around 300, from which 15 are selected for the show.

Prizes

Year(s) Finalists (guaranteed amounts) Semifinalists Quarterfinalists
Winner Second place Third place
1987-Winter 1997 $25,000

(and a spot in the Tournament of Champions)

$10,000 $7,500 $5,000 $1,000
Fall 1997–2000 $15,000 $10,000 $2,500
2001 $50,000
2002–2003 $20,000 $15,000
2004–2005 $75,000 $25,000
2006–2014 $10,000 $5,000
2016−present $100,000 $50,000 $25,000

Other prizes

  • Until 2000, all Teen Tournament winners were invited to participate in the Tournament of Champions. When eligible, eight Teen Tournament winners made the Tournament of Champions semifinals, but none ever advanced to the finals.
  • In 1999 and again from 2001 to 2003, the Teen Tournament winner was awarded a new car (a Chevrolet Cavalier in 1999, a Chevrolet Tracker in 2001, a Mitsubishi Eclipse GS Convertible in 2002, and a Volkswagen New Beetle in 2003).
  • Contestants in the 2005 Teen Tournament were awarded a computer package.
  • Some Teen Tournament winners were later invited to Jeopardy!'s "all-time best" tournaments.
    • 1989 winner Eric Newhouse was a Super Jeopardy! semifinalist in 1990, a Million Dollar Masters finalist in 2002, and received a bye to the second round of 2005's Ultimate Tournament of Champions.
    • All but 2 Teen Tournament winners to that point competed in 2005's Ultimate Tournament of Champions, with 1992 winner April McManus & 1995 winner Matthew Zielenski both advancing to the quarterfinals.
    • 1991 winner Andrew Westney competed in the 1980s round of 2014's Battle of the Decades tournament (after being voted in as the fan favorite amongst past champions from the 1980s in an online vote), but lost in his match.
    • 2013 winner Leonard Cooper competed in 2019's All-Star Games tournament as a member of Team Austin Rogers. His team wound up competing in the wildcard match where they were eliminated, collecting and splitting $75,000.
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