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Friday, December 1, 2023
Dec. 1, 2023

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Vancouver man competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

His episode is set to air Wednesday

By , Columbian Features Editor
2 Photos
Vancouver resident Yogesh Raut, right, will appear on "Jeopardy!" hosted by Ken Jennings on Wednesday.
Vancouver resident Yogesh Raut, right, will appear on "Jeopardy!" hosted by Ken Jennings on Wednesday. (Contributed by Jeopardy Productions Inc.) Photo Gallery

Vancouver resident Yogesh Raut said he has tried to land a spot on the quiz show “Jeopardy!” so many times he’s lost track.

He finally got his chance in an episode set to air at 7 p.m. Wednesday on KATU-TV. He will compete against today’s winner and Andrew Whatley, an academic administrator from Chicago.

Raut, 38, moved to Vancouver in 2017 for a job as a research associate at Washington State University Vancouver when he was working on his master of business administration, one of his three master’s degrees. He’s now a self-employed blogger, podcaster and freelance writer.

By the time he traveled to Culver City, Calif., in November to tape “Jeopardy!,” he had taken written tests, undergone interviews and participated in a mock competition. He said he started trying for a spot on “Jeopardy!” in high school.

Raut said competing on camera didn’t make him nervous.

“I first appeared on local news when I was 4,” he said.

He caught the attention of TV newscasters for his early ability to point to a blank U.S. map and name all the states and capitals.

“Only later, as an adult looking back, did I realize this was fundamentally about my parents proving how American we were,” Raut said.

His parents emigrated from India. Raut was born in New York City, where his mother, a physician, was pursuing a fellowship in neonatology. The family later moved to Springfield, Ill.

Raut said he has lived all over the country since, but on “Jeopardy!” he chose to be identified as “originally from Springfield.”

“It has less to do with affection for Springfield and more with a certain frustration with the way that I’ve been treated in the Portland area,” he said.

Raut described being told at a pub trivia game that he must have a photographic memory to do so well, even though science has debunked the idea that such a thing exists.

“Anytime you tell an Asian person, ‘Your mind works like a robot,’ that’s pretty racist,” Raut said. “It canceled out a lifetime of hard work.”

For example, he started writing about three new facts a day on his blog, “The Wronger Box,” in 2019 to help him memorize new information. He also produces a trivia game show in a podcast called “Recreational Thinking.”

As youngster, he sat on the sidelines taking notes at his older brother’s Scholastic Bowl quiz games until he was old enough to compete.

Getting on “Jeopardy!” reminded Raut of how that felt.

“It’s that feeling of sitting on sidelines over and over again,” he said, “seeing other people get to play and knowing that you could but not being allowed to — and then finally getting a chance.”

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