UPDATE: Ben Ingram's long run on Jeopardy! finally came to an end Thursday (July 11), but he'll still go down as one of the long-running quiz show's greatest champions.
Ingram, 30, a Florence native with degrees from Wofford College and the University of South Carolina, finished Thursday's contest in third place.
His $1,000 consolation prize brought his total winnings to $177,534, good for ninth all-time, according to the Jeopardy! website.
Officials have confirmed that Ingram's streak of eight consecutive wins was tied for fifth-best all-time.
Read the full Spartanburg Herald-Journal story by reporter Drew Brooks.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Ben Ingram, a 2005 Wofford College graduate who was a member of the college’s academic team, will appear as a contestant on the popular quiz show “Jeopardy!” on Monday, July 1.
The show will air locally at 7:30 p.m. on WLOS-TV.
Ingram, an IT consultant in Charlotte, N.C., who lives in Lake Wylie, S.C., credits his Wofford education for helping him get on the show, and more.
“I can’t give specifics, but more than one correct response I knew because of at least one class I took at Wofford,” he says. “I’ve found my education at Wofford to be a treasure not just in preparing to be on a half-hour television program, but in my career and my life in general. More valuable than the facts and methods I learned at Wofford was the passion and desire to learn and study even more, and my being on a TV show wasn’t an end in itself, but just an expression of all that Wofford taught me.”
Ingram says his experience on the academic team at Wofford “was most helpful and, I think it gave me a bit of an edge because I had the experience of competing under pressure, with a buzzer, no less. I can’t say enough about my teammates and coaches. They’ve helped me become what I am today more than they know, and I’m grateful.”
Ingram was part of the 2005 Wofford College Bowl team that made it to the nationals, held in Seattle, Wash. The team finished in a three-way tie for 12th after defeating five of its 15 opponents. Ingram was the third-highest scorer of the tournament’s 73 players.
The five-member team was coached by Dr. Natalie Grinnell, professor of English; Dr. Mark Byrnes, associate professor of history; and Dr. Matt Cathey, associate professor of mathematics.
Two other team members, Benjamin McCraw and Melia Brannon, married each other and recently had their first child. McCraw is a lecturer in philosophy at Wofford, and his wife is an attorney.
The other two members were Vedhas Doshi and Tejas Doshi, twins who graduated from Dorman High School. Tejas is a student at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. They graduated from Wofford in 2008, and Vedhas lives in Spartanburg.
Ingram says his girlfriend, Liz Hutchens, a 2009 Wofford graduate, is the one who encouraged him to try out for the quiz show. He took the online quiz in January 2012 at her apartment in Spartanburg, then forgot about it until that October, when he traveled to India for business and received an emailed invitation to audition in person in Baltimore in December. “I thought that email was spam at first and almost deleted it because I forgot I took the quiz.”
Good thing he didn’t send it to the “trash” box. He auditioned and in February, he received a telephone call inviting him to be on the show, which was taped in March. (Ingram is contractually obligated not to reveal the outcome of the segment.)
With great intentions, he bought two “very thick books filled with lists of facts, and promised myself I’d read through them every night,” he says. “That lasted exactly one night. I can’t memorize facts very well. I spent a lot of time adding and subtracting large numbers with pen and paper, because I didn’t want to mess up the final wager, especially being a math major.”
Ingram says his appearance on “Jeopardy!” is “less a reflection of what I’ve done than what the college has done for me,” and he hopes he’s not the last Wofford alumnus, or student, to get that chance.