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Locals get their game on

Mountain View residents appear on game shows Jeopardy, Idiotest

Todd Defilippi will never forget which famous explorer visited the California coast during his circumnavigation of the globe.

On an impulse, Defilippi had guessed "Magellan," only to get a buzzer squawk in response and a chiding glance from Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. The correct response was Sir Francis Drake. It wasn't a big deal, but it still stands out in his memory.

"Sometimes it's just the luck of the buzzer," he said. "I was really nervous I could see myself on TV shaking a little bit."

Defilippi, a 34-year-old software engineer from Mountain View, last week completed a two-game run on the popular quiz show Jeopardy. Defilippi netted about $25,000 as well as a good story to recount at a cocktail party.

He scored plenty of squares on the board. These two Muppets announced their breakup on Twitter ("What is Kermit and Miss Piggy?"), Luna Park opened here in 2010 ("What is Coney Island?"), Waylon Jennings had a county hit song that served as the theme for this 1980s TV series ("What is 'Dukes of Hazzard?")

Defilippi even nailed the Final Jeopardy questions on both the March 7 and 8 shows, but didn't win enough to change the outcome and continue competing. He is now mulling what to do with his winnings. Perhaps he'll take his wife for a vacation, or maybe they'll put the money toward buying a house, he said.

"Twenty-five thousand dollars: around here maybe that'll buy us a nice closet or something," he joked.

He wasn't the only Mountain View native to compete on a television game show last week. On March 9, 24-year-old Sean Small, who graduated from Los Altos High School in 2010, competed on the Game Show Network's Idiotest. The show pairs contestants to answer fast-paced brain teasers and puzzles.

It was fun, but frantic, Small said. He usually had just 30 seconds to solve a puzzle before the prize money would drain away.

In the end, he and his partner ended up with just $160 between the two of them. They actually came on top -- the other team ended up with just $50.

"I'll probably take my girlfriend out to a semi-nice dinner, not ultra-nice," he said. "I'd have to win a little more for that."

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