This weekend, I will once again participate in the annual staging of The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM, the main fundraiser every year for the college radio station in central Wisconsin that is my most prized alma mater. At this time last year, I shared some personally memorable answers from the madness of the contest, noting that every one of my teammates has similar stories. It is those stories from my teammates that I’ll share this time around.
Like a lot of the people on my team, Blair Bandow did his time as one of the student leaders at 90FM-WWSP, the station that mounts the contest. But he also has a long history as a listener, player and helpless fan. His vaunted propensity for collecting old records and obsessively reveling in the minutiae on all those old covers alone made him an easy mark for the contest. A sterling soccer player (though not as good, it should be said, as his wife), he comes at it with a competitive edge that winds up making everyone better. He did come to use with a bit of a blemish given that she spent many years as a member of the team that we once considered our most hated rivals, but any past indiscretions are entirely forgiven now. He’s a true blue Caker, through and through.
Playing in the World’s Largest Trivia Contest for the past 25-plus years, I’ve learned a great deal about how to “just play” the contest and then “really really really try to play” the contest. The first year that I actually “got it” and really tried to put in some amount of energy before the contest began at 6pm on Friday was around the mid-nineties era. It began on a Monday when we received the New Trivia Times rulebook that every team receives at registration. Inside the rulebook, there are about 24 obscure pictures that teams are supposed to figure out who or what the picture is and any relevant information about them.
This particular year, there happened to be a picture of some Campbell’s soup kids kicking a football through some goal posts during an apparent football game. Normally, during the days leading up to the contest, if I didn’t know a picture off of the top of my head I just bypassed it and moved on, forgetting about it until the relevant question was asked during the contest. Well, that year I actually said, “Huh, maybe I should just call the Campbell’s soup company in New Jersey and see if I can find out more about this.”
The following day my first contact with a representative at Campbell’s was not a short one. It went kinda like this: “Hi, you are going to think I’m crazy, but I’ve got an old ad of yours, and I want to know more about it.” The representative paused and said, “Ooookaaayyy. Umm. Let me put you on hold.” During the holding process, I thought maybe I should just hang up and forget it. Then the response was fairly quick and, based on the tone of the rep, it sounded like I might get somewhere.
After about three different transfers, a person comes on the phone and says, “Yeah, are you calling about an advertisement that has some kids kicking a football? Because I’ve had two other people call about this ad in the last 24 hours.” I said, “Great! Now don’t tell anyone else that calls after me about this ad!” I asked the lady to please fax me the entire advertisement.
I finally received it on the day the contest started. The ad sat untouched until the final hour of the contest. We all knew that the question hadn’t been asked the entire weekend and now we were wondering if this ad would have the honor of being the final question (and usually one of the hardest questions asked throughout the weekend) of the contest.
Question 8, Hour 54, the last question: “What is the poem that is featured on the 1921 advertisement “Putting It Over” for Campbell’s Soup? Please be complete.” Mind you, the literary banter for the final question is usually rather lengthy, so I put it as short and sweet as I remember it.
As we dialed the phone numbers to call it in, the excitement was at an all-time high at the team headquarters. The phone operator answered the phone, “Trivia, what’s your ID number?” We gave our number. “Ok, and what’s your answer?” And as I started to recite the poem, I could hear the female operator say, “Oh my god!” (which usually meant that we had the correct answer and also that not many other teams did, which led to her amazement.)
During this contest, the team I was playing on didn’t even place in the top 100 teams out of 500+ teams. But this gave us (and especially me) the excitement to really love this contest and all things that go with it.
More information can be found at the official Trivia site or try to get your hands (and eyes) on a certain documentary. You can also listen in to the radio station that hosts the contest. In order to see how things are going with the team I play on, Twitter is your best bet.