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Notre Dame students compete in NBC trivia show

A team of three Notre Dame students recently appeared on “Capital One College Bowl,” a trivia show on NBC hosted by Peyton and Cooper Manning. The trio appeared on the season two premiere episode, which aired Friday, September 9th. Competing for academic scholarships, the team went up against rival Ohio State University and successfully moved on to the next round.

“We played Ohio State in the first round, which I see now was a much needed victory,” contestant Caitlyn Cato, a junior, joked after Notre Dame’s defeat in its first two football games.

The three Notre Dame students on the team included Cano, an environmental engineering major in Pasquerilla East Hall, Maya Kvaratskhelia, a sophomore physics and violin double-major in Johnson Family Hall, and sophomore Noah Coffman. Each of the students applied for a spot on the team in the spring and was selected after being interviewed.

“There was an interview, and then there was a plane ticket, which was crazy,” Cano said as she recounted the experience.

Filming took place in Atlanta in June over the course of about a week. The show initially consisted of 16 teams, from colleges including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma, but each round resulted in the elimination of several teams. While the entire series has been filmed, only a few episodes have aired so far. 

For many contestants, it was their first time appearing on television, and both Cano and Kvaratskhelia agreed that it was a nerve-wracking and intimidating experience.

“It didn’t feel real until I got there. Then I was like, wait a second, that’s actually Peyton Manning standing in front of me,” Kvaratskhelia said.

Since the premiere of the episode, the contestants have gained more recognition and have even been approached on campus. Kvaratskhelia recounted a recent encounter when a woman recognized her at the Marshall football game. 

“Her only connection to Notre Dame was that her grandson went to Holy Cross, and she was like, ‘I saw you on TV.’ It’s crazy. That’s me,” she said.

The incentive of the show is scholarship money — each contestant receives $5,000 in tuition money for participating, and the incentive increases with every round they win. The final winners receive $1 million for their education.

“In the end, it’s a scholarship competition that’s made a world of difference on my tuition this year,” Cato said.

While the most obvious rewards of the show are scholarships and fame, the students who competed say the experience went beyond that. Throughout the filming experience, they say they got to bond not only with their teammates but also their competitors. While Kvaratskhelia said that while she can be very competitive, she enjoyed getting to know the other contestants.

“The thing is, I feel like you view them as competitors when you’re in it, but outside of that, they’re just other people from college experiencing the same wacky thing you’re experiencing,”  Kvaratskhelia said.

The contestants say that while the filming may be over, the friendships are not. The Notre Dame teammates hadn’t known each other before going on the show, but Cano says they left as friends.

“It’s so special, like such a unique experience that we’ve shared now,” she said.

The most recent episode can be viewed on Peacock. The next episode featuring the Notre Dame team is anticipated to air in early October on NBC.

Contact Elena Que at eque@nd.edu

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