Drew Horwood’s life is in “Jeopardy!” — and he couldn’t be happier about it.
The Maple Grove native has won eight straight times on the long-running game show that requires a wealth of knowledge on everything from Caribbean capitals to Broadway ballads. If his streak continues on Friday’s program, Horwood will be one of the most successful players of all time. Only two contestants in 29 years have won for more than nine days in a row.
“I’ve wanted to do the show for as long as I can remember,” said Horwood, 23, a systems analyst for Cargill and a former intern for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who has been tweeting her support. “Both my grandmothers wanted to be on the show, but when they saw me yelling out answers to the TV screen when I was 4 or 5 years old, they decided to make it their lifetime goal to get me on.”
It wasn’t easy.
While attending the University of Minnesota, Horwood tried out twice for the show’s college tournament without success. When he finally got tapped, he almost blew it on the first episode.
Horwood was in third place going into Final Jeopardy, the climatic round in which players wager their earnings on a single question, knowing only the category. In this case, it was “Classic Novels.”
He was “100 percent sure” he was going to lose when he saw the puzzler: “In this novel, the title character says, ‘It’s a bad omen,’ after a guard does not hear a train and is crushed.”
Even though he’d never read the novel — or seen the recent movie version — Horwood jotted down Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” because he seemed to recall that it had something to do with trains. The first-place contestant responded with “Murder on the Orient Express.” Horwood was right. The streak had begun.
“When the camera panned on me, you could see I was shellshocked,” he said.
He also had a bit of luck Thursday when one of the questions pertained to Apollonia, a co-star of “Purple Rain.”
“I was lucky enough to land a question about Prince,” he said. “I doubt I’d have been let back into the state if I got that one wrong.”
Horwood has already amassed more than $138,000, which he plans to use to pay off student loans and take a trip to New Zealand. But he can’t reveal just how far he got, even though his episodes were filmed last October.
“ ‘Jeopardy!’ has a good incentive for not telling anyone,” he said. “They don’t give you your winnings until after your run is done. Plus, I’m sure they don’t want you going out and buying a car and showing bling off to everyone before the shows air.”
He has a reasonable shot at besting Dave Madden’s 19-game winning streak, but it’s a much longer haul to become the all-time champ of the show since it was revived in 1984. Ken Jennings lasted 74 days.
“I don’t know how he did it,” Horwood said. “I’m thinking about trash-talking him on Twitter. I definitely need to do that.”