Eddie Timanus (born August 9, 1968 in St. Joseph, Missouri) is a Jeopardy! champion and USA Today sportswriter who grew up in Reston, Virginia, then graduated from Wake Forest University. He met his wife through a Yahoo! Groups discussion group on game shows; the couple now has a son. Timanus has been blind since he was a toddler due to retinoblastoma.
At age 3, Timanus had an operation to remove tumors from his eyes, leading to his blindness. Following his Jeopardy! success, Timanus related a story from his childhood that his mother told him: "I came home and said, 'Turn on the lights.' And she said, 'They're on and you won't see them.' And I said, 'Well, OK' and went on."
Timanus's father, Chuck, was a play-by-play announcer. Eddie began attending sports events with his father at the age of six, and he started keeping statistics at the age of eleven. Timanus graduated from Wake Forest University in 1990 with a degree in economics. In 1991, The Washington Post reported that Eddie worked alongside Chuck as a statkeeper for American University's basketball games, using pegboards and abaci, compiling statistical information for WINX-AM radio.
Timanus was a contestant on Jeopardy!; his games aired in October 1999. He was the first blind contestant to compete on the show. There were a few changes made to accommodate Timanus: the first was that he received a card with the category names printed in Braille before each round, and a Braille keyboard to type out his name on the podium's computer and his response and wager for Final Jeopardy!. There were also no video-based clues during his appearances. Also, beginning with his appearances, contestants started out the show already at their podiums, instead of the old practice of walking up to them as they were being introduced. (The practice became permanent starting in September 2000.)
Timanus won five consecutive games and then, according to the rules in effect at that time, retired undefeated. His winnings totaled $69,700 (USD) plus two new cars (Chevrolet Camaros in his case), and he was invited back for the 2000 Tournament of Champions in Atlanta, Georgia, where he reached the semifinals and won $5,000 there. The story became a minor media sensation, with Jeopardy!'s Nielsen ratings rising 15% for Timanus's fourth and fifth games. Timanus was a contestant on the Jeopardy! Million Dollar Masters Tournament in New York City which aired in May 2002, but did not advance beyond the first round and took home $10,000.
Timanus also appeared in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions on March 16, 2005, in a first-round game. He finished in second place, taking home $5,000. In addition to the Braille cards and computer keyboard provided on his earlier appearances, an audible tone that was in sync with the game board's lights was added in order to give him an indication of when he could begin buzzing in to respond.
Timanus participated in the March 3, 2014 episode of the Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades tournament. While he had the most money going into Final Jeopardy! round in which every contestant answered incorrectly, he did not win. Like his Ultimate Tournament of Champions appearance, he was given Braille cards, a computer keyboard, and an audible buzz-in indicator.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
In 2000 he acted as a lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. On November 26, 2004, Timanus appeared again on Millionaire, this time as a contestant, and won $50,000 in prize money. When he used the Phone-a-Friend lifeline, host Meredith Vieira would read the question and the four choices to the friend that he chose to call and would also remind him how much time was remaining on the 30 seconds used for that lifeline.
Timanus is a staff sportswriter for USA Today whose articles appear frequently in the publication. In addition to general reporting, he is responsible for compiling the weekly USA Today Coaches Poll. He also writes the preview section for college football games.
- Goff, Steven (1991-02-19). "Timanus Paints the Picture by Numbers". The Washington Post.
- Jackman, Tom (1999-10-24). "1st Blind Player Wins Big on 'Jeopardy!'". The Washington Post. p. C.01.
- Alessandra Stanley (July 13, 2004). "O.K., Alex, Smart Nerds for $1 Million". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-05. "In 1999 Eddie Timanus, a blind sportswriter for USA Today, became an undefeated champion despite not being able to read the clue cards; on his final two days ratings went up 15 percent."[dead link]
- "Unstoppable quiz-show contestant slated for doubleheader". USA Today. April 21, 2000. Retrieved 2010-10-05. "Eddie Timanus, 31, a sports reporter for USA TODAY, is used to covering doubleheaders. Soon, he'll participate in a game-show twin bill, acting as a phone-a-friend lifeline on May 9's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and competing in Jeopardy!'s Tournament of Champions the next day."
- "Enjoying Game Shows In Man's Blood". New York Times. December 2, 2004. Retrieved 2010-10-05. "Eddie Timanus 36 currently of Arlington Va recently appeared on the syndicated version of ABC's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ..."
- USA Today college polls
- USA Today football digest
- Article on Timanus from Wake Forest University paper Old Gold & Black
- Timanus's player profile on the J! Archive