“This La Salle alumnus was a contestant on an installment of Jeopardy!—but it wasn’t his first gameshow appearance.”
Who is Cory Anotado, ’10?
A creative director for a marketing agency based in the Baltimore area, Anotado put his trigger finger and trivia knowledge to the test. His episode, which taped in November, aired Thursday, Jan. 13.
For Anotado, appearing on Jeopardy! was a dream come true. As a child, he consumed hours of gameshow broadcasts with his grandmother, Lilia. Back then, the Philadelphia native said, gameshows ruled the television landscape—from The Price is Right and Press Your Luck, to The Joker’s Wild and the famed Jeopardy!
“When you walk on the Jeopardy! set, your breath gets taken away by the beauty and just how grandiose it all is,” said Anotado, a first-generation college student who majored in digital art. “On the stage, you’re a bit awestruck because it’s the place you see on TV. It’s where champions are born. It’s like walking on the grass at Lincoln Financial Field where the Eagles play, or Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies.”
Anotado’s lifelong interest in gameshows led him on a path to Culver City, Calif., and the set of Jeopardy! He founded a gameshow news blog, BuzzerBlog, in April 2005, which Anotado said “straddles the line between superfans of shows to understanding how the industry works.” Over the years, he’s heard from producers and industry insiders who confessed that they have his blog bookmarked and always open.
BuzzerBlog put Anotado on the radar of Ken Jennings, who famously claimed more than $4.5 million by winning 74 consecutive episodes on Jeopardy! in 2004. Jennings called up Anotado and interviewed him for his book, “Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs,” which published in 2006. In the book, Jennings called Anotado “just a kid, a freshman at Philadelphia’s La Salle University. He runs Buzzer, one of the larger gameshow blogs on the web.” Anotado took Jennings’ call in the quietest room on campus he could find—the WEXP studio in the Student Union.
All these years later, Jennings—now the host of Jeopardy!—and Anotado finally crossed paths again.
“You know how the contestants talk to the host as the credits are rolling? Ken brought up our call to me right then,” said Anotado. “He remembered our call.”
Anotado has a gameshow history. He appeared on the short-lived Jep!, a Jeopardy!-like gameshow designed for children. (Spoiler alert: He didn’t win.) He spun the wheel on Wheel of Fortune in 2005, when the gameshow took a roadtrip to Philadelphia for a week of tapings. (He didn’t win then, either.)
There is a happy ending for Anotado, though.
When the popular British gameshow The Chase brought its format to the U.S., Anotado auditioned and made the cut. Along with two teammates he met on the day the show taped, he established a then-Game Show Network single-day record with combined winnings of $180,000.
You don’t need a high IQ or an expertise to appear on Jeopardy!, said Anotado. He prepared for the appearance by reviewing trivia questions in board games and video games. Watching enough episodes over his lifetime, he said, also gave him a leg up.
“You understand how to parse what they’re looking for and how to do so very quickly. It’s a whirlwind,” he said, “but it’s something that can be practiced. Anyone can prepare for the show. Honestly, it’s more important to know what you don’t know. It helps you train and decide which categories to choose or avoid.”
Anotado watched his episode the night it aired, sitting beside his wife Elisabeth, ’11, a fellow La Salle graduate who studied English.
Outside of his gameshow affinity, Anotado also developed a multipurpose 56-card deck that allows users to play multiple games—and even practice improv.
“It’s a credit to La Salle,” he said. “La Salle taught me to develop ideas and follow them. My professors gave me endless encouragement. That’s how I’ve gotten where I am today.”
—Christopher A. Vito