Federal official Richard Cordray falls short of victory in return to ‘Jeopardy’

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray. (Gary Cameron/Reuters).
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray came in second in the game show’s “Battle of the Decades” tournament. (Gary Cameron/Reuters).

It was a valiant effort, but Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray lost Wednesday night on “Jeopardy.”

Try as he did, the head of the watchdog agency just couldn’t take down aerospace consultant Tom Nosek, who won $7,201 in the “Battle of the Decades” tournament.

“These are some of the very top players of all time, and ‘Jeopardy’ always asks tough questions, so it was a tremendous challenge that I greatly enjoyed,” Cordray said, in a statement.

He came in second place, with $5,200, by betting everything in “final Jeopardy.” Cordray used the same risky strategy on a daily double 27 years ago when he first appeared on the game show, a move that also paid off back then — the five-time winner amassed $45,303 during his stint on “Jeopardy.” He might have won more, but contestants weren’t allowed to make endless appearances on the show in those days.

Cordray got the idea to try out from a friend who had competed on the game show and gave it a shot after his graduation from law school. Cordray used his winnings to pay his dad back for a school loan, buy a car and take a trip to California with a friend who helped him study for the show.

On Wednesday, Cordray struggled with the pop culture questions but aced the newspaper category. He cleaned up on such answers as: “It’s Dispatch: Beagle Helps Ohio Zoos Tell if Polar Bear Pregnant,” with the question being: What is the Columbus Dispatch? Still, the CFPB boss, whose agency overseas a wide array of financial firms, didn’t get to take home any of his winnings because of his position in the government.

Cordray’s instant fame from his winning streak in ’87 did come in handy when he ran for the Ohio House of Representatives in 1990. One of his campaign bumper stickers at the time read “The answer Is: Richard Cordray,” he told “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek between rounds.

The CFPB director may not have advanced to the semifinals, but how many top government officials can say they were on “Jeopardy”…twice?

Danielle Douglas covers the banking industry for The Washington Post.
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