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Catch Cincinnati native John Anneken on 'The Chase' Tuesday

John Anneken competes on "The Chase" 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, on ABC.
Richard Cartwright/ABC
American Broadcasting Companies
John Anneken competes on "The Chase" 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, on ABC.

The Covington Latin High School alum is competing on the ABC quiz show against 'Jeopardy!' champion Brad Rutter.

John Anneken played basketball and baseball at Covington Latin High School, but he says he was more successful on the academic quiz team.

So his family wasn't surprised when the self described "data nerd" was selected to compete on The Chase (9 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC), where a trio of contestants compete against brainiacs like Jeopardy! champions James Holzhauer, Brad Rutter or Buzzy Cohen.

Anneken, 35, and two others, are on the clock Tuesday night May 24 against Rutter, who tries to stop them from winning cash prizes.

Facing a Jeopardy! champ wasn't something new to Anneken, who grew up in St. Bernard across the street from Roger Bacon High School but chose to attend high school across the river with one of his brothers.

Anneken was a three-day champion on Jeopardy! in 2013, after earning a doctorate degree in neuropharmacology from the University of Cincinnati. In 2007, he received bachelor's degrees in biology and Latin at Loyola University Chicago.

Contestant Richard Coble with John Anneken on "The Chase" set.
Richard Cartwright/ABC
American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Contestant Richard Coble with John Anneken on "The Chase" set.

"I actually tried out for Jeopardy! the first time when I was 12, for the back-to-school version, and twice as an adult before I appeared on the show in 2013," he says.

When he qualified for The Chase, his family wasn't "surprised that I made it, mainly because I'd been on a show once before," he says. "They were definitely excited, as we love the show, going back to the prior version on Game Show Network."

How did he get so smart?

"It's probably a mix of always being curious and having a very good memory for random facts," he says.

He'll have plenty of family and friends in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky rooting for him Tuesday. His parents live in Evendale; one brother lives in Covington. Another brother lives in Atlanta and his sister is on the West Coast.

"I've got lots of extended family all over town. My mom grew up in Greenhills; my dad grew up in Elmwood Place. There's a sizable watch party planned with family and friends for Tuesday night in Cincinnati," he says.

Anneken won't be there. He moved to Nashville two years ago to be closer to the southern states he serves as a "medical science liaison" for Alkermes Inc., a global biopharmaceutical company based in Dublin, Ireland, which develops medicine in the fields of neuroscience and oncology.

He describes his job as "being a data nerd on retainer for the company. I answer questions about our products and scientific topics to help doctors make informed decisions, and I relay their opinions and feedback to the company."

Anneken will be watching The Chase Tuesday night with coworkers in New Orleans, where they're attending a conference.

He's looking forward to being able to tell everyone about how well he did on the show, and what it was like to compete against Rutter.

"We taped in mid-March, so it's been over two months of keeping my mouth shut about the experience," he says. "I'm looking forward to being able to speak about the show and the behind-the-scenes experience once it airs!"

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.