Who Is a Terp Puzzle Master?
Crossword-Creating Alum Finishes $66K Run on “Jeopardy!”
Erik Agard ’15 has spent his whole life solving puzzles, and he did it on the biggest stage yet this week, raking in $66,802 in four appearances on “Jeopardy!”
His streak ended last night, when he missed the Final Jeopardy answer: Bloemfontein, South Africa.
A freelance crossword constructor, Agard became enamored with the puzzles in high school and could solve The New York Times’ version in under two minutes by the time he was a freshman majoring in African American studies at the University of Maryland.
He released a book, “Food for Thought Crosswords” last year, won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in March and has had his puzzles appear in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Arizona Daily Star.
“It’s what I’ve fallen into in life and it’s what I know,” he told the Daily Star in June. “And it gives me happiness.”
All that cognition comes with a sense of humor, too. Stumped on Monday’s “Final Jeopardy” question about Marjorie Post giving Mar-A-Lago resort to the federal government, he answered instead with a meme: “What is you doing, baby?”
While host Alex Trebek—who had already admitted to one of Agard’s puzzles frustrating him only days earlier—struggled to make sense of it, Agard roundly won appreciation on Twitter, with one user proposing that his new fans should call themselves “Asgardians of the Galaxy.”
Considering he had an uncatchable lead that night, the price of the joke was only $1,000, and not victory itself.
He won nearly $14,800 that night, followed by $25,201 and $26,801. He was leading last night with $14,600 after Double Jeopardy, but was felled by a question about African cities.