Arlington Heights native Selena Groh finished first on the Teen Jeopardy Tournament July 22 and she will appear again today.
The 17-year-old was initially trailing and in last place in the first round during the July 22 episode. By the second round, she was still behind. She won in the final round with $20,000 – just a $1,000 ahead of the next teen.
Groh had wagered $6,000 on a question about the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. The answer was the Eiffel Tower, which she said she knew from recently reading "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America," a book about the Chicago World's Fair.
"I was really thankful that my friend recommended the book to me," she said. "It was such a weird coincidence."
Groh is now one of nine semi-finalists for the storied quiz show's two-week special, which featured categories focusing on pop star Katy Perry, government officials and YouTube, among others.
The top three contestants are to compete for the $75,000 grand prize in the finals airing on July 31 and Aug. 1.
During the 2:30 p.m. July 22 broadcast, the incoming Buffalo Grove High School senior said she watched it eating ice cream with a group of friends who had no idea of the outcome. Some of it was a blur for her, too.
"It was surreal watching it," Groh said. "We taped it in March. I didn't really remember all the things that happened."
She said she was locked out on some questions because of buzzing in too early, which left her out of much of the game.
"In order to buzz at just the right time but not early enough that you get locked out is one of the most challenging parts," she said.
Her mother, who said she received many concerning messages throughout the broadcast, said she was proud of her daughter for staying calm even as she was losing.
"She's good with rolling with things," Lisa Groh said. "I could tell by watching her that she knew the answer to significantly more of the responses than she rang in for."
The teenager said while she was nervous about the points, she remained focused knowing that the point values get more dense as the game goes on.
"It's really anyone's game for quite a long time," she said. "I don't know that there was time to sweat it. You just go."
And although Groh said she can't discuss the results of the show, the teenager did joke that she would buy a lot of tacos with the money if she were to win.
"I joked during the audition in New York ... I remember saying, I would buy 75,000 tacos," Groh said.
Her favorite treats from the fast food chain, Taco Bell are about a buck each with tax, so like any teenager referencing the familiar in life, Groh said she regularly uses it as a measurement for money.
Her mother very practically said she hopes her daughter will save, spend, invest and donate with any winnings. Both agreed college is the true priority.
"She was being silly," Lisa Groh said. "She's very responsible and level-headed."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun