When Jason Shore was a contestant on Jeopardy! last year, his big concern going in was that he might humiliate himself on national TV.
What if he spaced out when answering questions? What if all the categories were subjects outside his areas of expertise? What if he went fared so poorly that he wouldn't even be allowed to play the Final Jeopardy! round?
Turns out Shore had no reason to worry.
The Fort Worth-based medical student was a four-game winner, racking up $85,200 in prize money.
That's not enough to unseat Ken Jennings as the all-time Jeopardy! king. He won more than $2.5 million. But it's not pocket change, either.
Shore did so well on the show, in fact, that he earned a return visit. Now he's competing in the two-week Tournament of Champions. His first game of the tournament airs at 11 a.m. Wednesday on CBS.
"It was a different kind of pressure this time," Shore says. "I knew these were all former champions I would be playing against. Some of them even did a lot better than I did.
"Not that I felt like an underdog, but I knew it would be more of a challenge."
Shore's nerves are perhaps most evident early in his first game, when he's guilty of overreaching.
"I think in my first game of the tournament, since I was going up against stiff competition, I felt more pressure to buzz in early, to be the first one with the answer," he says. "So sometimes I rang in on questions that -- how should I say it? -- questions that I didn't really have a handle on."
But that can happen on Jeopardy! Brainiacs can go on the show and then freeze under the lights.
When Shore was on the show last year, he recalls, "I felt less pressure, not more, as I won more games. I was more and more confident and comfortable, and getting the hang of the buzzer.
"After every win, I performed better the next time, because I thought, 'OK, if I lose now, at least I can be proud of what I've done. I've exceeded my expectations. No reason to be disappointed.'"
As before, Shore isn't allowed to reveal the results of the show before it airs, but we do know he will appear more than once during the next two weeks.
One might think that winning big on Jeopardy! could be a life-changing event, but Shore says that hasn't been the case for him. The 26-year-old Plano native is still studying at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, still planning to graduate in 2015 and still hoping to pursue a career in surgery.
And not once since November has a stranger recognized Shore from his brush with TV stardom.
The prize money has certainly come in handy.
"It's always nice to have a little extra," he says, understating the obvious. "I have my scholarship from the Air Force, so they're paying for all of my medical school. But I still have loans from when I was in college and I have money to pay those off now."
Shore suspects that the Tournament of Champions will be his TV-game-show swan song.
"There have been a lot of people who have been on Jeopardy! and then they go on to do Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and other game shows like that," he says. "But I think this is it for me."