(MCT) — Despite Colby Burnett's attempts to downplay his appearances on "Jeopardy!" a fever has swept his colleagues and students as they've watched him move forward in the TV game show's two-week teachers tournament.
On Tuesday, Burnett, a teacher at Fenwick High School, will be seen vying against two other finalists for the $100,000 grand prize in the conclusion of episodes filmed about seven weeks ago.. The show airs locally at 2:30 p.m. on WLS-Ch. 7.
Since the tournament began airing earlier this month, the Oak Park high school has rallied around Burnett, holding "Jeopardy!" viewings in the cafeteria and auditorium. A group of students even stormed his classroom once while chanting his name when they learned he had advanced in the tournament, he said.
"They're very happy for me," the 29-year-old said. "It's nothing but overwhelming support."
Many at the school have asked him about the experience and what host Alex Trebek is like. Some even tried tricking him into revealing the outcome, but Burnett says he knows better.
An AP World History teacher and coach of the school's scholastic bowl team, Burnett is no stranger to competition and trivia. But he says that had he played against a different set of competitors, or with different questions, he might not have made it this far.
The Fenwick grad also credits a world almanac he picked up for $15 in Los Angeles before filming began.
"I just think I happened to be in the right place at the right time," he said.
The attention has also been exciting for his mother, who has been fielding calls from friends and family about Burnett's success. If he wins, the money will go straight to her so she can buy a condo or house.
Whatever the outcome, Burnett said, he won't let it define him or his role as an educator.
"I'm still Mr. Burnett. I still have a job to do," he said. "I won't let anything change that."