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From Left Field: Years of useless trivia gathering finally paying off
Adam Krebs, Reporter - photo by Adam Krebs

I can still hear my mother, my teachers, past girlfriends and classmates, “Could you pay attention to actual school and knock it off with this useless trivia?”


My entire life I have remembered small factoids, pop culture references and sports statistics. Was a teacher blabbing on and on about some sort of math equation or science experiment? I don’t remember, because I was skimming the textbook for breakout boxes.

Were my parents giving me important information on upcoming events, a death in the family or what the principal called to talk to them about that day? Sorry, I was busy reading the news scroll at the bottom of the TV screen.

Years and years of my life have been spent listening to little tidbits and anecdotes that meant very little but made me go, “Hmm. That’s interesting.” More than a decade of Facebook news feeds and random internet searches have continued this process of accepting my ADHD as a part of me.

When I hit college, I found a little bit of solace in dominating the trivia games at Damon’s restaurant in Madison and blabbing out the answers to quick questions during the previews at movie theatres and on the city buses in Milwaukee. 

But now? Now I’m using that knowledge to get rich.

Well, maybe not rich, but I’ve scored some money.

This past summer I read an article from The Guardian in London about a trivia app that doles out money to daily contest winners. This was something I needed to be a part of immediately.

The app is called HQ, and the quizzes follow an easy format: First, a notification prompts that a game is starting (Sports Trivia twice a week, otherwise there are daily games at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. central time). Music and graphics play while you wait, then a host comes on, tells a few lackluster jokes, gives some shout-outs and explains the rules — there are anywhere from 9 to 15 questions for a typical game, with the first questions being ridiculously easy and then it gets ramped up from there. By the end, most people have no clue and you just hit one of the three options. There are less than 10 seconds to answer, so doing a quick Google search is useless.

A player has to get all the questions correct (unless they have a free life, which can be spent once per game, but never on the last question) in order to win the prize. Small sports trivia prizes are $1,000 a pot, while the Sunday show is $25,000. There have been games where the pot is $100,000, but there is only one winner — which means the questions keep going until one winner is left (it once went 27 questions).

If you are a winner, you don’t get all the money (except for the one-winner-only event). If 2,000 users from around the globe get all the questions right on a $1,000 prize, everyone gets $.50. That’s just two quarters, five dimes, 10 nickels or a pocket full of pennies.

But sometimes there aren’t so many winners. My first time winning I won a few dollars. Same goes for the second time — Disney movie themed quiz.

Then the big one came. For 15 questions I agonized in my daughter’s room, as she loves watching me play. The second to last question was what they call a “savage question” in which more than half of all remaining players get knocked out. The prize pot that night was $25,000, and over 800,000 users from around the globe logged in to play. But in the end, I was one of just over 400 players left standing and walked away with nearly $60. The winnings were transferred to my bank account and I was able to pay for gas for the week.

So there, mom. This brain filled with useless trivia isn’t so useless any longer. I can now pay for a tank of gas approximately every two months. So, I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

— Adam Krebs is a reporter for the Times and wanted to remind you that there are just 60 days until pitchers and catchers begin reporting to Spring Training. His column appears Saturdays in the Times and he can be reached at