Greg Sukiennik: We'll take 'game show newspapers' for $1,000, Alex

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So this happened Friday night: We were on "Jeopardy!" For 10 whole seconds!

Oh, wait. That's not in the form of a question.

What is "We were on `Jeopardy' Friday night?"

There, that's better.

The Green Mountain State has eight daily newspapers and many more weeklies. Two of those publications are our siblings. And out of all those papers, The Brattleboro Reformer was chosen to be a clue on one of the world's longest-running and best-loved game shows.

Any number of Vermont newspaper names would present a challenge to the prospective game show contestant. Our sister weekly, the Manchester Journal, receives press releases intended for Manchester, N.H., Manchester, Conn., and even Manchester, England.

And did you know there's a Bennington in Nebraska? Our colleagues at the Bennington Banner certainly do.

Yet, "Jeopardy" picked us.

Perhaps someone realized we're the only newspaper called the Reformer. Maybe someone remembered that Bill O'Reilly once said mean things about us. Who knows. We're just happy to have been included.

By the way, it turns out we've been selling ourselves short. According to the clue values on "Jeopardy," we're worth $1,000. So you're getting a $999 discount when you pick up a copy at the newsstand price. What a deal! And you save even more when you subscribe.

But back to our game ...

In the first round — at the 4 minute, 35 second mark if you want to find it — contestant John Fassola, an attorney from Homer Glen, Ill., chose the final question under the category "State of the Newspaper." The category worked like this: Presented with the name of the paper, contestants needed to correctly ask which state the publication calls home.

The contestants correctly identified the Hartford Courant (Conn.) and the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio). They weren't so lucky with the Rapid City Journal (S.D.). No one even took a swing at the Bainbridge Island Review (Wash.).

But neither Fassola, nor student David Kleinman of Sharon, Mass., nor returning champion Mirza Gluhic of Toronto, got the correct answer when the screen flashed "Brattleboro Reformer."

Kleinman was the only one to try. He guessed "What is Rhode Island?"

Oh, David. What in the name of Narragansett was that?

We're not at all upset about the geography malfunction. After all, the incorrect answer knocked Kleinman down from $1,200 to $200 — harsh punishment, indeed. And anyone would be nervous appearing on national television, let alone while competing for a sizable cash prize.

What's more, that miscue set the stage for Kleinman's dramatic comeback victory.

As "Jeopardy" viewers know, things change quickly in the second round, and Kleinman finished with a game-best $16,800. And by correctly answering "What is 100 Acre Wood?" for the "Final Jeopardy" question about Winnie The Pooh's fictional stomping grounds, he defeated the returning champion and ended the day with $31,600. Not bad for 22 minutes' work!

With that, we'd like to offer Kleinman an open invitation.

David, we'd love it if you'd come visit us in Brattleboro this summer. That prize money could buy a lot of Brattleboro goodies and experiences you're sure to enjoy — maybe a maple yogurt, some granola to put on top of that yogurt, an hour of canoeing on the West River? And that's just scratching the surface.

You'll love this place we call home and write about every day. And once you get to know Brattleboro, you'll always remember that we're part of Vermont.

OK, let's put this in proper perspective. Being a clue on "Jeopardy" is not as cool as a Pulitzer prize. (We set our expectations high). But it sure was fun to see the emails and social media messages come pouring in Friday from people who make that show a part of their nightly routine.

After all, "Jeopardy" is all about proven facts. And that's our kind of game.

Greg Sukiennik is Vermont Managing Editor for New England Newspapers, Inc.


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