To James F. H. Scott, sometimes what's important is not what you know, but what the other guy doesn't know.
Mr. Scott, 22, of Columbia, won the $100,000 "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions, televised last night, when none of the three contestants could correctly respond to final round answers on the popular game show.
"It just seems very odd that I won," he said. "It always seems that the veterinarian from Fort Worth or the podiatrist from Seattle wins, almost never someone you know and never yourself."
The "Final Jeopardy!" category was Colonial America, and the answer was "The colonists referred to the three French and Indian wars by using the names of these three British monarchs."
Contestants had to supply the question.
Mr. Scott won the two-day Tournament of Champions final with a 20,000-point performance aired Thursday, and a 1,650-point show
ing broadcast last night. He said his high score the first day forced his opponents to go on the offensive.
"One of my opponents got both Daily Doubles and going into Final "Jeopardy!" he was in a position to bet enough to beat me," said Mr. Scott, who graduated in May from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville with a degree in history and economics.
But when it came down to the final answer, no one knew the right question -- "Who were William, Anne and Charles?" -- and Mr. Scott was the winner.
The money comes in handy for Mr. Scott, who has been looking for a job as a legal assistant.
"Finding a job isn't as pressing as it would be if I hadn't won," said Mr. Scott, who lives with his parents.
The money also will pay for law school, but not right away, Mr. Scott said, adding he's "sick of school for awhile. "I am thinking convertible," he admitted.
It takes luck as well as knowledge to win at "Jeopardy!", he said.
On the first day of the final he picked both daily doubles in "Double Jeopardy!" and answered both questions correctly to increase his score to 10,900 by "Final Jeopardy!" Mr. Scott then bet 9,100 on the final question in the category of U.S. Presidents.
"I knew all my presidents when I was 5 years old, and I majored in history," he said. "If it had been nuclear physics, I would have thought otherwise."
Mr. Scott had some minor league training for his "Jeopardy!"! appearance. He was on the Wilde Lake High School team that won consecutive "It's Academic" championships and on the University of Virgina's College Bowl team.
"Being on 'It's Academic' gave me some TV experience," he said. "It really helped me keep my wits. I kept telling myself that it's 'It's Academic' and Alex Trebek is Mac McGarry," the host of "It's Academic."
Mr. Scott earned an invitation to the "Jeopardy!" tournament by winning $49,300 on the show last fall. The Tournament of Champions was taped in Los Angeles about two and half months ago, but contestants were prohibited from disclosing the outcome before the shows aired.