Caporusso celebrates two-day run on Jeopardy

By on December 12, 2018

Viewing party held with friends, family, and co-workers at Penn Cinema

It’s a good thing Francesco Caporusso knew the name of the capital of Italian East Africa from 1936 to 1941.

“What is Addis Ababa?” he wrote in Final Jeopardy, giving him winnings of $24,801 and making him champion on Jeopardy. He would return for the next show, defending his position. Caporusso and his family, including his wife Adrianne, daughter Gia, and son Roman, hosted their friends and family at Penn Cinema on Dec. 10, the same day the show aired. They got to see the Lititz man compete against the previous champion and another competitor.


Francesco Caporusso, middle, and his family, including his wife Adrianne, daughter Gia, and son Roman, hosted their friends and family at Penn Cinema on Dec. 10.

That show was actually taped on Halloween at Culver City, Cal., after Caporusso managed to do what so many dream of doing — qualifying for America’s popular Jeopardy game show.

“I was on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?” back in 2007,” said the trivia buff, who once played on his high school’s quiz team. “But Jeopardy has a certain prestige. So it was a thrill to get on Jeopardy.

His wife Adrianne was so excited, she wanted to invite friends to watch the show at their home. With church members, relatives, co-workers, friends and neighbors, the crowd was getting too big to fit in their living room.

That’s when Penn Ketchum stepped up and offered a viewing of the show’s Dec. 10 airing at Penn Cinema, theatre 8. The Caporussos could invite everyone and enjoy popcorn, sodas and snacks while Francesco wiped out his two competitors.

Ironically the first question asked on the movie screen was on the topic of movies.

Francesco Caporusso, a tech support analyst from Lancaster County, competed on “Jeopardy!” Dec. 10 and 11

Caporusso started the game with a correct response to the very first clue, a description of the Mel Gibson movie, “Braveheart.”

Adrianne thanked Penn for allowing the viewing party at the cinema.

“I couldn’t believe that Penn let us use the theatre at no charge. He said it was a community service to have a Lititz winner on Jeopardy,” said Adrianne. Some of those attending were from the family’s church, Hosanna Fellowship of Christians, in Lititz. There were surely a few prayers when Caporusso correctly responded that Kennedy’s grave was lit by the eternal flame.

On the second night of Francesco’s Jeopardy appearance on Dec. 11, he was doing well until the Daily Double took him down to zero with a question about China. Amazingly, he was quickly back on track. As the Double Jeopardy round finished up, Francesco had $10,000, with competitor Nicole at $11,000 and John at $9,500. The Final Jeopardy answer was about the Old Testament Bible and “songs to a harp” in Greek. The correct question was: What are Psalms? John missed that question. Both Francesco and Nicole got it right, but Nicole was ahead and wagered more. In the end, she became the new champion with $20,001, compared to Francesco’s $19,500 and John’s $7,999.

“Of course, I would have loved to win a few more games, but I’m grateful for the experience and the cool story I now have. At some point, everyone loses on Jeopardy, but not everyone gets to win, so I’m thankful for that.”

Others were co-workers of Caporusso from Listrak. Still others were friends, family and neighbors, who cheered him on, even though the show had already been taped. Since he wasn’t allowed to reveal what happened on the show, there was a lot of suspense as he competed with two women, who were tough competitors. As they entered the Final Jeopardy! answer, all three were well positioned for victory.

When Caporusso responded with “Addis Ababa,” the crowd went wild–in a dignified Jeopardy! sort of way.

Francesco is shown here during day one on Jeopardy!

“You’ll have to watch tomorrow. But not here. You’ll have to watch at home,” said Caporusso, thanking everyone for coming and explaining that he would take them out for drinks, except that his winnings were not set to arrive for quite some time.

Although Caporusso had always dreamed of being on Jeopardy the experience turned out to be quite surreal. He had a hard time believing he had really been on his favorite game show.

He also learned the importance of giving precise questions, when he added an “s” to the end of Julia Child’s name. During his winning match, Caporusso also provided the correct responses to clues on a variety of topics, including Japanese snow monkeys, Bill Clinton’s Arkansas birthplace, the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, the eternal flame on John F. Kennedy’s grave, Beat poet Alan Ginsburg, the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and the saxophone solo in Lou Reed’s song, “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Caporusso won the game by more than $14,000, despite not having the chance to earn extra money during any “Daily Doubles.”

During the contestant interviews, host Alex Trebek, who moderated the Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate in October in Hershey, asked Caporusso about his former job as a tour guide of historical sites in the City of Brotherly Love.

Caporusso told Trebek that giving tours of such places as Ben Franklin’s house was an enjoyable experience. Luckily, his experience on the high school quiz team and involvement in theatre gave him enough confidence to avoid stage fright. Using the buzzer was a bit tricky, so he had to master that skill, and also figure out how much to wager. He didn’t happen to hit on a Double Jeopardy answer. His biggest fans were his wife and children, who were quite proud of Caporusso. Adrianne is a 1995 graduate of Warwick High School, who met her husband in New York City, when she was working as a fashion designer.

Francesco was born in Toronto, and grew up in West Palm Beach, Fla. He graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in theatre. The couple married in New York, then they decided to move to Adrianne’s home town in 2012 to raise their family.

“Being on “Jeopardy!” was something that I’ve wanted to do from when I was in high school,” he said, adding that he took the online test about five times before being called for an in-person audition in 2016, then getting the chance to be on the show nearly two years later. “It was a great experience.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

One Comment

  1. Marianne

    December 17, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Wow. How exciting!

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