ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An Auburn High School graduate can now add the title of “Jeopardy! Champion” to his resume.
The 28-year-old won his match on the iconic game show on Tuesday. Lloyd Sy was surrounded by friends and family as they watched the episode air. It has been a journey, but he fully embraces his Rockford roots.
“I myself saw the category and I’m like, ‘well, this could not have gone better,'” Sy said. “Of course, literature is the thing I feel most comfortable with, so I felt great.”
That was Sy’s reaction to seeing “Foreign-Born Authors” as the category for “Final Jeopardy!” Tuesday. The Rockford native is the current champion on the game show, dethroning Ray Lalonde, who held the title for 13 days.
“After the episode, Ray came up to me and was like, ‘once I saw the final category, I knew that it was over,'” Sy said.
Sy is four months away from earning his PhD in English literature from the University of Virginia. He studied English and computer science at Brown University after graduating from Auburn in 2012.
He said that his “Jeopardy!” success came from knowledge and buzzer speed. Sy credits his preparation to practicing with a ballpoint pen and being on the high school’s Quiz Bowl team.
“That was a big part of my high school experience, and, so, I feel like most of my preparation for the show actually happened as I was preparing for Quiz Bowl back in high school,” he said.
Sy met Ken Jennings, the current host of “Jeopardy!,” while in high school. He remembers watching when Jennings was a contestant on the show.
“I’ve been a big fan of the show since I was probably in kindergarten or first grade, you know, literally coming back from school at Martin Luther King School,” Sy said.
Literature is Sy’s true passion. He has a love for everything from British lit to Japanese novels and poetry. That passion started in his hometown.
“I’ve always just loved reading, you know? I’ve always loved reading,” Sy said. “I mean, I kind of grew up at, my home was the Rockford Public Library and the Cherry Valley Library growing up.”
Sy auditioned for “Jeopardy!” last July. The process included an online test, a test on Zoom and a mock game with other hopeful contestants. He found out that he made the cut at the end of October, and was flown out to film in mid-November.
He said that he was just happy for the experience.
“After today, I was like, ‘I don’t even care what happens,'” Sy said. “I mean, I was just happy to be there in the first place. I didn’t even expect to win, you know?”
Sy’s run on “Jeopardy!” is not over yet, but he is currently focused on job interviews to be a college professor. He also plans on saving a lot of his winnings.