When John Presloid walked on the Jeopardy stage, he had no idea he was about to win big. The game show contestant brought home almost $100,000 but with a few nonchalant words, he became a true champion.
Presloid, who lives in a small community outside of Toledo, Ohio, talked to LGBTQ Nation about his win – and becoming an inspiration to countless LGBTQ kids.
The four day champion had to stay mum about his big winnings until the show aired.
“It taped the week after Thanksgiving, so almost two months ago,” he said. “It was hard sitting on such a big secret for so long, but I knew it would be more exciting for people to experience it without knowing what happens. I ended up winning 4 games and $92,200 total.”
But on his fourth day as the champion, he hit the Daily Double. Twice. The first time he bet his entire earnings, but when host Alex Trebek encouraged him to do the same the second time, Presloid’s nonchalant mention of his husband didn’t register on set – but it did with viewers.
He declined to bet $27,600 for an answer in the “Poets” category – even though if he had made the wager and won he’d have had a chance at becoming the contestant with the highest score ever recorded for one episode.
“My husband would kill me,” he said as he smiled brightly and the audience chuckled.
He wagered $400 – and correctly answered the question.
Presloid, who has been out for years, says “nobody who knows me personally was surprised at all by my statement.”
“The reaction was so much bigger than I thought it would be.”
Presloid pointed out former contestant Louis Virtel who, after becoming internet famous for a giving a big circle snap after winning a Daily Double himself in 2015, admitted that his biggest regret was being recognized as a gay man from stereotypes, but never actually saying he is gay.
“If you watch the show, I’m slamming around on the buzzer with a wrist flicked up to heaven,” Virtel said. “I snapped my fingers at the camera during my introduction; I snapped again with full In Living Color gusto after I responded correctly on a Daily Double. Before the closing credits, I posed like Linda Evangelista with a ladylike arm in the air.”
“It all felt fantastic and organic, a reflection of my obsession with the show. But I hate, hate, hate that I didn’t just say ‘I’m gay’ on air.”
“That kind of stuck with me,” Presloid told LGBTQ Nation. “I’ve noticed that gay people can immediately recognize me as gay, but a lot of time straight people are surprised. So I kind of liked the idea of just dropping it casually, like a straight person would mention his wife.”
“I didn’t want to make it a ‘reveal’ or some shocking secret, but just a matter of fact thing. ‘Oh yeah, by the way, I’m gay too. Let’s keep playing this game’.”
Presloid says the reaction to his casual reference to his husband sparked a chord in small town teens across the country who reached out to thank him for being a “role model” when they couldn’t find anyone else.
“It was really touching. I didn’t expect to get those kinds of messages, and it really warmed my heart,” he said.
“If I just gave them some relief or some hope, that would be good enough for me. I know it can be hard at that age, especially if you’re in a bad environment. So if they can draw something to help them out of what I said or did, that would make me extremely happy to have been able to help, even if it was small.”