Teacher Matt Takimoto made the San Francisco Bay Area proud by winning on “Jeopardy!,” in an episode that aired on Feb. 17.
A 2015 graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, Takimoto, 36, teaches fifth grade at Glenview Elementary School in the Oakland Unified School District. He previously worked at Raskob Day School and Walden Center & School.
With Ken Jennings as host, Takimoto’s opponents were Linda Sellars, a retired archivist from Durham, N.C., and returning champion Charles Fogelman, a geographer from Champaign, Ill.
The Final Jeopardy answer, in the category “Long-Running TV Show Characters,” was: “This character who has been on the air for more than 50 years is only 6½ years old.” The correct response was Big Bird from “Sesame Street.”
Takimoto, who was in second place with $11,400 at the end of Double Jeopardy, was the only one to respond correctly and won a total of $21,400. Sellars’ response was “Charlie Brown” and Fogelman’s response was “Daniel Tiger.”
Noting that “Sesame Street” has been on since 1969, Jennings said, “Despite his enormous height and his advanced age, Big Bird is still somehow only 6½.”
In an interview with The Daily Cal, UC Berkeley’s newspaper, Takimoto said that he played Trivial Pursuit with his grandmother and watched “Jeopardy!” from an early age. For the last seven years, he took the show’s annual online test; those who meet the scoring threshold are randomly picked to audition.
To prepare for the show, he memorized all the capitals in Africa and all the rivers in Asia. He felt that his strongest subjects were sports and pop culture.
On his Twitter account, Takimoto describes himself as a “Jeopardy!” champion and “Big Bird enthusiast.” He adds, “Tweets will be about pro wrestling, trans rights, worker’s rights, and Klay Thompson, mostly.”
After the show aired, Takimoto tweeted, “It’s kismet that Final was a ‘Sesame Street’ question, because that was maybe the most important television show of my childhood. Thank you, Big Bird. I love you forever.”
In the Feb. 18 episode, Takimoto was up against Carter Lockwood, an attorney from Columbia, S.C., and Bridget Kranz, a communications specialist from Saint Paul, Minn.
The Final Jeopardy answer, in the category “Plays,” was: “First published in 1602, its title characters are Margaret and Alice.” The correct response was “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
At the end of Double Jeopardy, Takimoto had $17,400. He had an incorrect response in Final Jeopardy — another Shakespeare play, “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
Kranz and Lockwood both had the correct response, and Lockwood won with a total of $17,401.
Because the shows are taped well in advance, Takimoto had to keep the results a secret until his episodes aired. He described the experience as “my ‘Jeopardy!’ dream” and used an image from the show as his profile photo on Facebook.