UGA trio wins $375,000 in ‘Capital One College Bowl’

Credit: Steve Swisher/NBC

Credit: Steve Swisher/NBC

The team beat defending champ Columbia University

The University of Georgia upset defending champs Columbia University to take home NBC’s “Capital One College Bowl” on Friday night.

The trio of seniors pocketed $125,000 each in scholarship money.

Aidan Leahy, a 21-year-old senior from Suwanee majoring in history and public administration, led the team to victory. He is captain of UGA’s quiz bowl team and began taking part in trivia competitions in fifth grade. He said the money will go toward paying off student loans.

“It definitely felt good to have our hard work rewarded,” Leahy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday while on fall break. “I am a very competitive person. Winning is half the experience. We didn’t expect it. We were underdogs going in.”

Elijah Odunade, a 21-year-old senior from Norcross and political science major, competed in “College Jeopardy” earlier this year, landing in the quarterfinals. He plans to use the money to go to grad school with a master’s degree in homeland security.

“People view Georgia as a sports school and I really feel like we’re doing our role in showing that UGA has some of the best and brightest students in the world,” Odunade said on air.

Layla Parsa, a 21-year-old senior from Marietta and engineering major, has not had much experience with college bowl but always had a knack for absorbing trivia.

She said her stress actually went down the deeper the competition. “I was just happy to be there,” she said. “I had no expectation of winning and that made me feel more relaxed.”

Parsa plans to pursue an MBA for sure and possibly a Ph.D.

NBC aired both the semifinals and the finals on the same night back to back.

Earlier in the season, UGA in the opening round easily defeated the University of Florida but games against the University of Texas and Syracuse University were super tight. “We were like the Kardiac Kids,” Odunade said on the show, making a sly football reference to host Peyton Manning.

In the semifinals, UGA defeated Penn State to get into the finals. Both teams played a clean game through the first two rounds with no mistakes with Penn State ahead 160-130. During the two-minute drill, where the teams have to answer as many questions a possible in 120 seconds, Penn State struggled and got only 10 answers correct.

This meant UGA only needed 12 answers to win and the team cruised to 15 correct answers, its best performance to date, skipping one question and missing two at the end when it no longer mattered.

In the finals, UGA built an early lead 180 to 50 thanks to the one-on-one round where a single team member faced off against a rival team member. Odunade clean swept a round focused on the subject of lions while Parsa pocketed two out of three questions regarding wardrobe.

During the pass-play round, Columbia closed the gap to 30 points. (Georgia missed the state where Martha’s Vineyard is from.)

That small lead, though, made a difference for the final two-minute drill round. First up, Georgia answered 14 out of 18 questions correctly. Columbia made too many mistakes and finished with just 13 in their round.

The Georgia trio immediately tackled each other to the ground in triumph.

A tearful Leahy right after the victory said, “To viewers at home, don’t judge me for crying. You would too!”

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