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Martinsburg man appears on 'Jeopardy!'

April 02, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Former five-time "Jeopardy!" champion Bob Fleenor failed to pull off a victory during Friday night's episode of the game show's Ultimate Tournament of Champions.

Fleenor, a copy editor for The Herald-Mail, was invited to compete with previous winners of the show's Tournament of Champions, College Championship and Teen Tournament, as well as more than 100 top-scoring, undefeated, five-time champions since the show began in 1984, a show press release said.

The 15-week special series was launched in response to "Jeopardy!" contestant Ken Jennings' record 74-game winning streak last year.

"I won a flat $5,000, minus California taxes. We had a California vacation and we threw a party," said Fleenor, who was surrounded by about 50 family members and friends gathered at his Martinsburg home to watch him compete against former 1995 Teen Tournament Champion Matt Zielenski and 1994 former five-time champion Kurt Bray.

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Fleenor went into Final Jeopardy with $17,800 in winnings and he wagered $4,200, which he lost after missing the Final Jeopardy question.

The final question was: In 1959, the ad firm Doyle Dane Bernbach began using the slogan "ugly is only skin-deep" for this import model."

Fleenor answered: "What is the Volkswagen ?"

The correct answer: What is the Volkswagen Beetle?

Fleenor answered the first part of the question correctly, but didn't answer the question's second part.

Meanwhile, Zielenski answered the question correctly. He went into Final Jeopardy with $20,200 in winnings. He wagered $15,401, which brought his final winnings to $35,601.

With every chair and sofa filled in Fleenor's home, several of his fans stood along the wall yelling, "Good job Bob, way to go Bob."

"You seemed more poised on this show," said Vanda White, Fleenor's high school classmate who drove from Gaithersburg, Md., for the "Jeopardy!" party.

"It's so exciting, exciting for the whole state and especially for our class," said Linda Henry, Fleenor's high school classmate and neighbor. "I knew Bob was smart, but not this smart."

Wearing a yellow Shepherd University shirt, Fleenor gave a play-by-play account of his studio experience as his wife, Carolyn Fleenor, videotaped the party.

"It was a dream come true," she said. "He never expected this to happen again."

Friday night's show was taped March 2 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif. Fleenor first appeared on the show in 2001, winning $55,700 and two Chevrolet Camaros and competing in the "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions.

While he didn't walk away with huge cash winnings this time, Fleenor said he played with a winning attitude.

"I had the time of my life, just go out and do it. Whatever happens, just happens," Fleenor told friends during a commercial break between rounds.

A longtime fan of the quiz show, he's been watching "Jeopardy!" since 1964, he said

"If anyone won $1,000, it was a big deal," Fleenor said.

Fleenor's mother, Edith Fleenor, and his sister, Becky Raynes, said Bob was born to excel at writing, trivia and other word games.

"He was reading well before he started the first grade," Edith Fleenor said.

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