Grad Student With Autism Fulfills Dream to Compete on 'Jeopardy!'

Playing 'Embrace Differences:' PhD Student With Autism Competes on 'Jeopardy!'

An Alabama man with autism, who has long aspired to be a Jeopardy! contestant, saw his dream realized Thursday as he appeared on the program after years of preparation.

Kelvin Smith, of Birmingham, has been enamored with the quiz show since he was just 10 years old. It was also at that age that he learned he was on the autism spectrum, and was diagnosed with Asperger’s.

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Smith is now in a Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech, where he studies chemical and biomolecular engineering, according to WIAT.

He has spent the last decade trying to follow the example of past Jeopardy! champions, learning how they prepare for the game show stage, the station reported.

Earlier this year, he finally got a chance to compete, manning a contestant podium before longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

During the contestant introduction segment of the show, Smith told Trebek that he has a hard time with social interactions and reading social cues as a result of Asperger’s.

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He credited his mother and grandfather for helping him concentrate more on his strengths.

“I encourage people to embrace differences and to be winners," he said.

“Good for you,” Trebek told him. “You are a winner. You got here.”

Smith wound up finishing in third place during Thursday’s Jeopardy! broadcast.