UGA alumnus wins on ‘Jeopardy!’

A freshly minted University of Georgia Ph.D. graduate won more than $18,000 during a two-night run on the television quiz show “Jeopardy!” July 26 and 27.

Ryan Fox, who graduated from UGA in May with a doctorate in mathematics education, used his knowledge of British royalty and some strategic wagering to stage a come-from-behind victory on the classic quiz show’s July 26 episode. He was then invited back the next day.

“When the announcer Johnny Gilbert says, ‘And our returning champion,’ and that applies to you, you’re just in awe,” Fox said. “I felt like I’d wake up from this dream. It was too strange to believe.”

Although Fox’s appearances aired July 26 and 27, the episodes were filmed in March-just days after he submitted his doctoral dissertation to UGA professors.

“I jokingly call it my best week ever,” he said. “I turned in the dissertation then went on ‘Jeopardy!,’ where I had to go to L.A. and meet Alex Trebek and answer questions in front of the lights, the cameras and the audience, and then, 24 hours later, I’m interviewing for a job that I ended up getting. It was all strange and surreal and wonderful wrapped into one.”

The Marietta native, who also earned a master’s degree in math education at UGA in 2007, accepted a position as assistant professor of mathematics education at the University of Pennsylvania, Abington. He moved from Athens to his new home the day after his episodes aired.

To get to the “Jeopardy!” set, Fox first took an online quiz in January 2010 and was invited to an in-person quiz and interview in Raleigh, N.C., a few months later. He didn’t hear from the show until February 2011 when they asked him to fly out to Los Angeles to be on the show.

“In high school I was involved with an academic bowl team. As an undergrad I did college bowl, but since I graduated from undergrad, I’ve only done recreational trivia nights at restaurants and taverns,” Fox said. “The night before the in-person audition, I grabbed a stack of Trivial Pursuit cards and started to go down the questions one by one to be sure I knew all the answers.”

Fox said he has no plans for how he will spend the money but wants to give some of it to charity.