Springfield native to appear on ‘Jeopardy!’ today

A Springfield native will appear on “Jeopardy!” tonight.

Yogesh Raut, 38, of Vancouver, Wash., said he auditioned for the show more than half a dozen times in the past 20 years before finally making it.

“They contacted me and said I was being considered, which generally if they’re not interested they don’t reach out at all. It’s nice to finally have the opportunity to get recognized for something I worked my whole life to become among the best in the world at,” Raut said.

The trivia show airs locally at 3:30 pm on WAND-TV. The episode with Raut was filmed at the “Jeopardy!” studios in Culver City, California, in November.

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Raut is the son of Jagdish and Dr. Aarti Raut, of Springfield. He competed in Scholastic Bowl while attending Grant Middle School. He spent his freshman year at Springfield High School but graduated from the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora. While at IMSA, he led his Scholastic Bowl team to two state championships.

“I was in the scholastic circuit of Illinois playing against people like Colby Burnett, one of the former ‘Jeopardy!’ tournament winners, and James Holzhauer, one of the most famous ‘Jeopardy!’ players of all time, and beating them,” Raut said. “So my whole life people would always say I should go on ‘Jeopardy!’ and of all the game shows it was the one most in line with my strengths.”

After graduating from IMSA, Raut attended Stanford University where he competed in quiz bowl while earning his bachelor’s in psychology. He continued to compete while attending the University of Southern California for his master’s and at a variety of other colleges. Raut settled in Vancouver, Washington to attend Washington State in 2017. Today he is a self-employed blogger, podcaster and freelance writer.

Raut said he watched the show frequently while growing up. He passed written tests for the show and did in-person auditions in Chicago, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Phoenix over the years but had yet to make it on the show.

“I always knew I would be good enough if I ever got the chance so I just kept trying because there wasn’t anything else to focus on. This has been my hobby for most of my adult life and It was the only game with that level of legitimacy and ability to reward me.”

Raut said the auditioning format switched from in-person to Zoom in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He could only speculate if the format change increased his chance of being on the show.

After experiencing the taping, Raut said the show is much different in person compared to watching it on TV. There are strict rules on when and how to hit the buzzer, he said.

“Usually when you watch at home you process things quickly and just shout out the answer. The show itself, being quick like that doesn’t help you. You have to wait for the whole clue to be read out then you and everyone are buzzing . Then you’ll think, ‘I definitely got that’ but then they’ll call on someone else.”

Raut said being on Jeopardy was much different from quizzing competitions he participated in which were speed-based. He described the experience as ambivalent.

“You have to sense when the lights are about to go off then try to time your buzzing and the other players are doing that, too. So mentally my thought was I’m going to do my best but I just have to prepare for the fact that its a very luck-based competition and accept whatever happens.”

Raut wants to compete against the latest game winner and Andrew Whatley, an academic administrator from Chicago.

He plans to host a watch party for friends and family via zoom or in person in Vancouver.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the time that “Jeopardy!” airs locally on WAND.