Greek-American Karamitsos Won $52,000 on Jeopardy, Talks to TNH

March 27, 2018

NEW YORK – Greek-American Peter Karamitsos, a software salesman from Elmhurst, IL was a two-day champion after winning on the March 15 episode of the long-running game show Jeopardy! He tried to make it three in a row on the March 16th episode, but it was not to be. Karamitsos spoke with The National Herald about his Jeopardy! experience. He told TNH that after taking the online test and going through the audition process, he was called to appear on the show in November and the episodes were taped in December. Karamitsos noted that “five shows are taped in one day,” so contestants are advised to bring clothes to change into in case they win and appear on multiple episodes. He said that “it was an amazing experience” and “I felt lucky that I got in.”

Contestants are asked to write down three interesting facts about themselves, their interests or hobbies to give host Alex Trebek something to ask them about after the show’s first commercial break. One of the things Karamitsos wrote was that although he is Greek, he did not learn the language as a youngster but instead learned as an adult after being encouraged by a woman he met at a church function. She was in a dance group performing at a festival on the North Side of Chicago. Karamitsos eventually married her, but he didn’t get a chance to say so before Trebek moved on to the next contestant. A lot of ribbing from his friends ensued, Karamitsos told TNH, as they joked about the “woman” he met. His wife, writer Maria A. Karamitsos, is the founder and editor of WindyCity Greek and has contributed to TNH, among other Greek publications, in the past. The couple has two daughters.

Karamitsos also told TNH that it was a lot of fun to see how many people reached out and contacted him on Facebook after seeing him on Jeopardy! During his first appearance, he was really nervous and got off to a slow start but the producers on the show helped and, at one point, one of the stage guys, Karamitsos was pretty sure was not Greek, said “Bravo Panagioti!” adding, “My wife is Greek,” which encouraged him. After calming down, he won the game and $27,400. As returning champion in the following episode, he won $23,600.

In his second appearance as returning champion, Karamitsos faced Rahul Gupta- a data engineer from Midlothian, VA, and Dan Lee- a math professor from New York, NY. Gupta proved too tough as a challenger, leading throughout the game, and winning in spite of an incorrect response on the Final Jeopardy clue. Karamitsos trailed during the game, starting off the Double Jeopardy round at $0. He managed to find one of the Daily Doubles and answer correctly, though with only 7 correct and 3 incorrect, according to the statistics on jeopardyfan.com, it was a tough game.

Going into the final, Gupta led with $12,400, Lee was in second place with $6,200, and Karamitsos in third with $4,000. The category was Mythological Beasts, the clue- “Hesiod said it fawns on all who enter ‘with actions of…tail & both ears,’ but when people try to exit it ‘eats them up,’” and the answer- Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hades from Greek mythology. None of the contestants responded correctly, with both Karamitsos and Lee answering the Minotaur, so at least they were in the right geographical area. Karamitsos only wagered a dollar and ended with $3,999 for a third place finish. Lee wagered nothing and ended in second place with $6,200. Gupta answered incorrectly- the Sphinx, and like Karamitsos only wagered a dollar, winning the game with $12,399. With his third place finish on March 16 plus his two-day winnings, Karamitsos’ final total was $52,000.

He told TNH that the quote from Hesiod describing the beast with a “tail and both ears” threw him off since he thought Cerberus, a three-headed dog, must have 6 ears, so he went with the Minotaur as his response to the clue. Karamitsos also noted that he didn’t seem to be buzzing in fast enough on the answers he did know, adding that he was surprised Gupta only won a single episode of Jeopardy! when he was so fast on the buzzer. “The buzzer is a big part of the game. There are these lights you have to wait for, when they go off, you can buzz in, otherwise if you buzz in too soon, your buzzer gets locked out,” he said.

When asked what he plans to do with his winnings, Karamitsos noted that part of it is going towards a vacation in Greece. His roots are in Messenia, and the family usually stays with a cousin in Kalamata.

In conclusion, Karamitsos said, “I am very proud of my Greek heritage and I was glad to get a chance to highlight that on national TV.”


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