Coming from behind last August, Eddie Timanus had just won his fifth consecutive game of Jeopardy! He would go home to Reston, Va., $69,700 richer. (His victory airs Oct. 26.) “In addition,” host Alex Trebek intoned, “you have won two new Chevrolet Camaros.” Trebek didn’t say what use a blind man might have for a couple of sports cars. But Timanus, 31, does what comes naturally whenever he runs up against—and often over—the limitations of his disability: He makes a joke. “I never have to worry,” he says, “about drinking and driving.” In fact, Timanus does a lot of things that would seem to call for vision. He bowls, plays craps in Atlantic City and covers lacrosse and field hockey as a reporter for USA Today, aided by his father, Chuck, a former radio sportscaster, who sits next to him and calls the play-by-plays.
The only son of Chuck and wife Terri, an office manager, Timanus was 3 when he lost both eyes to retinoblastoma, a form of cancer. (He now wears plastic prosthetics.) “Eddie adjusted a lot more quickly than we did,” says his dad, who used to take him along to ball games. “At 4 or 5, he was keeping score and keeping stats. He never forgot anything.” That skill turned Timanus, who graduated from Wake Forest University in 1990 and shares a townhouse with his parents, into a self-described “trivia junkie”—the perfect résumé for a Jeopardy! champion. So what’s next? “Well,” says Timanus, “there’s always the chance to win Ben Stein’s money.”