CAIRO — A question about the Cold War sent 2007 Cairo-Durham graduate Conor Quinn to victory in the first round of “Jeopardy!’”s annual Teacher Tournament on Thursday night.
Quinn, 29, of Albany, an Advanced Placement World History teacher at Troy Prep School, moves on to the semifinals.
After a decade of trying to get on “Jeopardy!,” Quinn was selected to compete in the two-week Teacher Tournament.
“I was taking the online test every year and had almost given up in my mind,” Quinn said.
Although the episodes were pre-recorded in early April, local audiences did not get to watch Quinn’s success until Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Conor entered Final Jeopardy! tied with competitor Melissa Okey, an elementary school resource teacher from Panorama City, California.
The question was, “The Cold War became entrenched in the mid-1950s after the formation of these 2 rival military alliances.”
Conor’s father Kerry Quinn, who taught social studies for many years at Cairo-Durham, was cautiously optimistic when he heard the question.
“Much of what he teaches is history from many centuries ago,” Kerry Quinn said. “I knew the answer, but you only have 30 seconds to answer.”
Conor felt confident when he found out the category, Kerry said.
“That’s why he bet so aggressively at the end,” he said. “He felt confident he could do pretty well in the topic.”
Conor gave the correct response — “What is NATO and the Warsaw Pact?” — breaking the tie and giving him $17,600 in winnings.
“We had been forewarned of how the game was going to go but I can’t tell you how proud we are,” Kerry Quinn said. “He really only missed one question.”
Conor attributes his love of trivia in part to his father.
“He was always reading a ton and learning random bits of information,” Conor said.
Conor also enjoys going to trivia game nights, reading, sports and history, and has been a fan of “Jeopardy!” since his childhood.
“I’m interested in a lot of different things and my personality is all over the place,” Conor Quinn said. “You don’t need to know a ton about one thing; you need to know a little about a lot of different stuff.”
Conor Quinn’s friends and relatives gathered at Wolff’s Biergarten in Albany for a viewing party.
“We were expecting maybe 50 people,” Kerry said. “Around 200 people showed up. It was such a special night, truly unforgettable.”
Conor Quinn competes in the second round next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 10.
The tournament’s 15 contestants compete in groups of three for five episodes and then for the semifinal rounds it takes the five winners and the four people who won the most money [but didn’t win] and has another three days of competitions, Kerry said.
The semifinals are being held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, with the three winners moving on to the championship.
“If Conor wins Wednesday, he will compete again in the championship round Thursday and Friday,” Kerry said.
Winning the first round gave Conor a competitive edge, Kerry said.
“Conor just wanted to get on the show for so long,” Kerry said. “But when you actually get to play, you want to get to the next round.”
Conor’s fans will hold another viewing party at Wolff’s Biergarten on Wednesday night.
“We couldn’t have wished for a better experience for Conor,” Kerry said.