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Reinventing Arthur Chu: How the Jeopardy Champ Plans to Parlay Minor Fame Into Broader Success

August 6, 2014, 9:30 AM
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What's the Latest?

We're talking a lot about IBM's Watson this week on Big Think, which got me thinking about the supercomputer's impressive run on Jeopardy a few years ago, and then about a more recent champion whose 15 minutes of fame may not be entirely spent. 

Arthur Chu won nearly $300,000 on Jeopardy during his high profile run earlier this year. His reliance on game theory and his shunning of traditional contestant decorum made Chu a game show icon both admired and despised (note: the cults of personality surrounding the vaunted pantheon of game show contestants is something I'll never quite understand).

Chu was recently interviewed by NBC News and gave a thoughtful account of the opportunities minor fame has allotted him, his reputation as a Jeopardy villain, and his new status as an icon of the Asian-American community.

What's the Big Idea?

Chu popped up in headlines again in May when he authored a terrific article for The Daily Beast in the wake of the Isla Vista massacre. The piece, titled "Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds," featured a take-down of societal tropes that reinforce rape culture and male privilege in the nerd community. Breaking from the cold, Moneyball-esque approach that brought him success on Jeopardy, Chu says his writings reflect the liberal arts side of him previously unknown to the public. He also acknowledges, similar to Ken Jennings before him, that game show fame only translates to lasting success if you can find a way to reinvent yourself:

"Jeopardy got my foot in the door so I could write [the Isla Vista article], but I’d like to think that the piece stood on its own two feet."

Another topic of Chu's writings is race. He explains how the Asian-American community lacks "controversial" figures and influential celebrities, therefore causing it to be under-represented in the broader American cultural zeitgeist. Chu sees his fame as an opportunity to change that and infuse a new perspective into how Asian-Americans are perceived, as well as how they perceive themselves.

Take a look the full interview (linked below) and keep an eye out for the intriguing Mr. Chu when he returns to Jeopardy for their Tournament of Champions in 2015.

Read more at NBC News

Photo credit: Jeopardy Productions via Slate

 

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