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Where is Kent State University?
Colin K. Jost ’04 didn’t know the answer to that question, but he still won $5,250 on last night’s episode of the game show “The Weakest Link.”
Jost correctly identified the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the name of the youngest U.S. figure skater to win the Olympic gold medal, beating a student from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“It was clearly all luck that it worked out that way,” he said. “I got lucky.”
He missed the last question, saying that Kent State is in Kentucky when it is actually in Ohio, but won anyway when the UNLV student missed her third question.
“I never learned where Kent State was,” he said. “It was the most anti-climatic ending in the world. I just won on her defeat.”
Jost survived four preliminary rounds against other college students in the show’s “College Week” competition before making it to the final round.
Although Jost was marked as the “weakest link” in the last three preliminary rounds, he joined the UNLV student to vote out the contestant from Northwestern.
The Northwestern student correctly answered 10 of 11 questions. Jost answered only four of eight questions correctly in the preliminary rounds, but was able to move on after voting out his more successful competitor.
The game’s strategy allows contestants to vote out one player after each round—they often choose to expel either the worst or best contestant, called the “weakest link” or the “strongest link.”
“The guy from Northwestern clearly should have won,” Jost said.
Throughout the course of the competition, host George Gray referred to Jost repeatedly as “Harvard man” and “genius boy from Harvard.”
Jost said he thought this could work against him and make fellow contestants more likely to vote against him.
“I also expected to get voted off immediately,” Jost said. “I was able to counterbalance that by being a bad contestant.”
Jost said that more than answering trivia questions—“I’m not great at trivia,” he said—he enjoyed the casual banter the game encouraged from its contestants.
The show, which is syndicated nationally five days a week, features six contestants who answer general trivia questions. All contestants play for a common pool of money, and the players depend on one another to build the pot.
At the end of each preliminary round, the group votes off its “weakest link,” until only two contestants remain. The two final contestants go head-to-head for the total amount of prize money collected during the game.
Jost said he fared poorly on some easy questions because the strategy of the game distracted him.
When asked for the name of one of Billy Joel’s famous wives, Jost answered “Christine Taylor.” The correct answer was Christie Brinkley.
“I know that,” Jost said. “I don’t know why I said what I said. I felt that there was a real rush to speak. I just wasn’t focusing on what the guy was asking me.”
Jost said he had never seen a full episode of the show prior to his appearance on it.
He said he tried out after a representative of the show called the Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization which used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine, looking for a contestant for the show’s college competition.
After an interview in late September and a short quiz, he made the cut.
“I thought the quiz was pretty easy,” Jost said.
He said he planned to watch episodes of the show to prepare, but decided against it.
“I don’t think you really need to prepare,” he said.
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