By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)December 1, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Capt. Daniel Kull insists he's not a nerd.
"I'm fascinated by trivia," said Kull, company commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson.
"I enjoy playing trivia games and I watch Jeopardy when I can."
Kull, who holds a master's degree in military history from Norwich University, Northfield, Vt., and a bachelor's degree in economics from John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio, offered numerous facts and "did you know" questions.
"Only once in U.S. history have there been three two-term presidents (consecutively elected to office," Kull said.
"And do you know how many composers died in Vienna?" he asked, listing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Peter Schubert and Johannes Brahms.
Kull's thirst for obscure knowledge and random factoids landed him a spot on the syndicated game show, Jeopardy, which airs Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. on CBS.
"I took an online contestant exam, which is a fun, but humbling test and I passed," Kull said, adding that out of 50 questions, participants need to score a 35 to pass. Kull scored 37.
"I was asked to audition in May and my wife said I should go for it," he said.
Kull took another 50-question test and endured multiple personality reviews to determine if he would be a viable contestant.
"Some of the (other contestants) were pretty high-strung. They were nervous," he said. "I was having fun. For me, being nervous is for before you go out on patrol."
A combat officer, Kull completed two tours in Iraq, including a tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom I with the 1st Armored Division and a tour from 2007-2009 with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. During his second tour, he earned the meritorious service medal.
To prepare for the show, Kull said he made flash cards and quizzed himself on various subjects, including Shakespeare, mythology, the periodic table of elements and high art, like ballet, classical music and literature.
"I would print off blank maps and fill in the names of countries, states, cities, rivers and mountains," Kull said. "I also memorized all the presidents and researched their presidencies."
Although he had his extensive education and hours of studying to rely on, Kull said the most important training was learning to click the buzzer.
"You have to click in after Alex (Trebek) reads the question. I watched the show on TV and practiced buzzing in with a ballpoint pen," he said. "I got pretty good."
"He would study his flashcards a lot and he watched Jeopardy and practiced with his clicky pen," said Danielle Kull, Daniel Kull's wife.
"We played Trivial Pursuit back in college, but I'm not as smart as my husband."
Daniel Kull said he could not reveal the results of the competition, which taped in October.
"All I can say is that it's pretty easy playing at home. When you're under the lights, it's not so easy," he said.
Daniel Kull said that despite any success he may have on Jeopardy, he does not burden his Soldiers with a lot of trivia.
"If I were to share quips with Soldiers, they would think I was a nerd. I have to be selective," he said, laughing. "I'm not a nerd, I swear."