It didn’t take long for Stephen Leach to become a “Jeopardy” fanatic.
“I watched one episode and I was hooked,” the fifth-grader said.
The 10-year-old first tuned in last winter at the urging of his Quiz Bowl adviser at St. Joseph Catholic School in Macon.
When asked if he comes up with the correct answers, the new game show aficionado said: “Don’t you mean questions?”
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Yes, since the answers are given and “Jeopardy” contestants must come up with the correct questions.
“I seem to get a lot,” Stephen said Thursday while taking a break from his hamburger.
“You do a good job,” his mother, Marie Sale, said as they shared lunch at school.
While watching in the spring, Stephen’s ears perked up when “Jeopardy” announced a National Geographic Adventure contest that would send winners for an all-expense-paid, 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands in October.
Sale signed up, and Stephen watched faithfully each night for two weeks.
“Right before Final Jeopardy they gave a key word,” she said. “If he was at his dad’s house watching, he’d text the word.”
They entered the Galapagos-inspired words into the online contest.
Tortoise. Conservation. Snorkel. Iguana. Blue-Footed Booby?
The contest ended May 5.
“Then, I was waiting. One month passed. Waiting. Two months passed. Waiting. Three months passed. And then suddenly, I get a package in the mail,” Stephen said.
With his family’s cameras rolling and live streaming on social media, he opened the box and found a large envelope containing a Galapagos booklet. He finally tore into a smaller envelope explaining that they were winners.
“Woo-hoo! I won the ‘Jeopardy’ sweepstakes!”
Another Macon woman, “Holly M.” was listed on the itinerary, but Sale has yet to find her.
The announcement came in mid-summer, but reality is just beginning to sink in for her little Boy Scout.
“It’s really catching up to me how close we are to the trip,” Stephen said Thursday.
On Oct. 6, they’ll fly to Miami and then on to Ecuador, where they will board the National Geographic Endeavour II ship that will be their home as they sail nightly through the island chain.
Stephen likely will be bringing home mental souvenirs that could come in handy for upcoming Quiz Bowl matches.
“I am so proud of him,” said Kathy Gilbert, Stephen’s adviser and challenge teacher. “He really takes it to heart. He studies the material and plays well.”
Guides will help them photograph the journey through the giant tortoises, crazy birds and reptiles.
The creature Stephen is most excited meeting walks on two legs — the “Jeopardy” host.
“Alex Trebek will be held captive with me for eight days,” said Stephen, who wants to get his autograph and phone number.
And don’t be surprised if the two are reunited on television in the coming years, considering Stephen’s affinity for the game.
“A 10-year-old is playing adult ‘Jeopardy’ for people twice my age and I can still get the questions right,” he said. “It just amazes me how I can do that.”