The answer is: Eric Backes. If you’re a “Jeopardy!” fan, you might have seen this confident contestant handily defeat the reigning champion, Bif Reiser, on the Feb. 11 episode. In case you missed it, Backes finished his first appearance with $48,001 after providing the correct question, “What is Grey’s Anatomy?” to the final answer, “Complications was a suggested title for this ABC drama that was renewed for a 15th season in 2018.”
Viewers quickly observed that Backes was very fast with the buzzer to get first crack at many answers. What they didn’t know was that Backes, now residing in Texas, lived in Maryland for many years and earned a law degree, with honors, from UB School of Law in 2012. Backes attended UB while working as legislative director to current Maryland Senate President Pro Tempore Katherine Klausmeier.
“My phone hasn’t stopped vibrating since last night,” said Backes in a Feb. 12 phone interview. “It has been a great experience. I really am enjoying the encouragement I’m getting, including from my classmates at UB.” His second appearance on the game show was to air Feb. 12, but he was sworn to secrecy about the outcome. The shows are taped about a month before they air.
Backes did say that his first-game winnings, at $48,001, are the fourth highest first-win amount since 2002, when prize amounts doubled.
After working for many years in government relations with various Maryland transportation agencies, Backes moved with his family to Round Rock, TX, outside of Austin, last summer. His wife took a position at the University of Texas and he began work with a trade association.