Fenwick teacher wins JEOPARDY! Tournament of Champions

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Courtesy Susie Eun


In an episode that aired Tuesday, Colby Burnett, a World History teacher from Chicago, Ill., won the JEOPARDY! Tournament of Champions and captured the $250,000 grand prize. The 29-year-old Burnett also won the JEOPARDY! Teachers Tournament in November 2012.

"I told my students before I left not to be disappointed because this might be a 'one and done' event," said Burnett, who teaches at his alma mater, Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. "I was just happy to be out there. I had no idea I would do so well. It was amazing, for both cash and prestige purposes."

Keith Whitener, a research chemist from Charlotte, N.C., came in second and won $100,000, while Kristin Morgan, a strategic analyst at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., finished third and took home $50,000.

"I was happy with the opportunity to come back and compete against some amazing players," Burnett said. "The most challenging part was overcoming apprehension about people who had won more games than I had. Momentum was never an issue, I ran off pure adrenaline in every match."

The $250,000 Tournament of Champions payday coupled with the $100,000 prize from his Teachers Tournament victory places Burnett in an elite group of high-earning JEOPARDY! champions.

"I'm staying committed to being the same person I was before I set foot on that stage," said Burnett, who plans on purchasing a house for his mother with his winnings. "I certainly can't retire, so I'm going to work with the same zeal I had all these years. I'm still riding public transportation and living in my apartment. I don't like change all that much."

JEOPARDY! airs locally in Chicago at 2:30 p.m. on WLS-TV (ABC Chicago). For complete national TV listings, please click here.

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Posted: December 26th, 2013 2:04 PM

What amazes me about Jeopardy is A: people confuse trivia recall with the prestige of true intelligence; and B: a good trivia guy could've made 4 TIMES that amount in ONE appearance on 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire' - with no competition buzzing in, and with the correct answer being one of the four options that they actually show you! Now THAT would've been true intelligence. But although no longer a 'rule', TV game shows still (unofficially) shun winners of other TV game shows. So he's done!

Sheila from Memphis  

Posted: September 24th, 2013 4:15 PM

Colby's clothes may have seemed to big to some, but have you ever thought about the fact that, that's the way he like his suits to fit him...so to each his own, and he was not being arrogant, that's called self- confidence...nothing wrong with having confident...I think he is a humble guy, how about just saying Congrats and not ciriticizing! Phenomenal job Colby!

No Comparison  

Posted: September 17th, 2013 1:19 PM

To Paulette, agree with the previous comment. When comparing the host to the contestants, we must remember that Alex makes $10 million per year (has a net worth of $50 million) and probably does not pay for the clothes he wears for the show. Congrats Colby

Vernorah from Hammond  

Posted: September 17th, 2013 12:51 PM

To Paulette from Ithaca, you must not confuse confidence for arrogance. To knock his clothing on a teacher's salary - go figure. A well earned congratulations would have be sufficient.

Paulette from Ithaca  

Posted: September 15th, 2013 4:59 AM

I agree with the person from Boston that Colby seemed arrogant. He didn't come over very well, also, I'm wondering if he couldn't afford to purchase clothes that fit him or if he lost a massive amount of weight...but...you earned your prize...congratulations.

Esther Stone from Albany, CA  

Posted: September 14th, 2013 2:43 AM

How super great!!!

Emma from Sparks  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 8:33 PM

I felt he would win

John Bresnik from Escondido CA  

Posted: March 7th, 2013 11:24 PM

Not only was he very knowledgeable, but he was fun to watch ... no hesitation -- he knew his stuff.

lois countryman from Moville,Ia  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 8:02 AM

Have watched Jeopardy since the beginning Love the show and the so handsome and charming Alex ....I had a feeling Colby would be the winner Great man Loiis

Marian Ash from Acme  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 5:49 PM

Way to go, Colby. Our electric went out with a storm. How frustrating not to watch. I had a feeling you would be the big winner. CONGRATULATIONS!

nina grigolo from elmwood park, il.   

Posted: February 28th, 2013 10:22 AM

As a mom of two Fenwick Alumni I congratulate Colby, we are all proud of you and the great foundation given to all our young people attending Fenwick!

Cal from Oak Park  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 9:10 PM

Guys I found a video made by the students of Fenwick for the Championship round. It includes a interview with Colby: http://youtu.be/RF6su_NYEVU?hd=1

Sere from Atlanta  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 6:57 PM

Congratulations Coby! I looked forward to seeing you each time you played. I was very impressed with the knowledge you have of world history. Continue to do well and be an inspiration to others; particularly the young people!

Elaine from Buffalo Grove, IL  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 6:25 PM

We did not get that final episode due to the blizzard yesterday that knocked out our dish reception. Boo hoo! Maybe they will show it in reruns?

CHRISTINE Lefevre from Pinehurst  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 2:23 PM

Well Done Colby!!!! You were awesome and yes I enjoyed the facial expressions too!!!!

Linda A Madison from Chicago  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 9:43 AM

Congratulations Mr. Colby Burnett for winning Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. I know it bring joy and tears to your mom eyes and heart. I watched the show and for me I had a joy seeing you win as well. Congratulations again on a job well done!

Leah from Boston  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 8:31 AM

I'm glad to hear other people's perspective on Colby, particularly people that know him because I thought he came off on all of his appearances on Jeopardy as cocky and arrogant. He certainly deserves the title as he is very knowledgeable but I think the faces he'd make after answering questions and his overall attitude gave a poor impression of his character. Hopefully it's all just a false impression.

Fenwick Mom from Chicago  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 10:52 PM

Colby is my son's teacher and during his first week of school, he commented how he was one of the smartest people he had met. Little did we know. He is also a great role model outside of the classroom -- he goes to school sporting events and is always supportive. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Kathy from Chicago, IL  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 10:37 PM

Way to go, Colby! As a Fenwick alumni parent, I hope you stay as humble as you are. You did a great job!

Dawn from Seattle  

Posted: February 26th, 2013 10:12 PM

What an inspiring teacher! If only every child could have him as a leader/role model/teacher.


Posted: February 26th, 2013 9:49 PM

Colby Burnett seems very humble, very grounded, and did an outstanding job in the final jeopardy tounament. He really rose to the occasion and certainly earned his win! Congratulations, Colby. :)

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