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Local Man Faces Jeopardy Champion

Published: Sep. 7, 2004 at 1:32 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2004 at 11:03 AM CDT
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September 6, 2004

39 straight wins on Jeopardy for defending champ Ken Jennings, Tuesday, he faces a challenge from a player from right here in the Heart of the Valley.

The episode was actually taped in April, but even though Jeopardy airs on WAFF 48, we don't even know what's going to happen.  There is at least one man who does. Rich Hartz of Huntsville takes his shot at the longest ever running champion Tuesday.

"At that point no one had heard of Ken Jennings, his first episode had not aired.  She said you've won 37, 38 games, there was a great silence in the room, I thought she was kidding, I hoped she was kidding and then Ken said 38."

And after Monday's game it's 39.  Tuesday, Huntsville's Rich Hartz will try to stop the biggest winner in Jeopardy history from getting to 40.  He said, "I got all these books, my sister sent me a bunch, trivia, quizzes, and things like that, I studied like crazy and I had a friend help me out with studying."

That was before the food bank agency coordinator knew who he'd be facing.  Hartz applied for Jeopardy in 2003, but didn't get picked for the show until March.  Just before taping, he met Jennings.  "He's so quiet you can't tell, so he's not a very loud or talkative man, he keeps to himself, so it's hard to tell how smart he is."

And we don't know if rich was smarter than Ken.  Jeopardy keeps the results a secret and Hartz could be sued if he told.  But he did tell us what it takes.  Hartz said, "You know you don't have to be smart to be on that show, you have to have a wide ranging curiousity, a very good trivial lint trap in your head, otherwise it's pretty much useless information."

Did he have the skills to beat Ken?  "I was very happy with how I did."  And that's all Rich would say about Tuesday's episode.  To find out what happens you can watch Jeopardy right here on WAFF 48 at 12:30pm.  We wish Rich good luck.