Seneca Niagara Casino hit the jackpot on Friday.
Its team won the eighth annual edition of Buffalo’s Biggest Trivia Competition, which benefits Cradle Beach and allows the winner to boast of being “Buffalo’s Smartest Company.”
A United Way team finished second, and in third was The Buffalo News Editorial team, which had its three-year winning streak snapped.
The trivia competition is divided into three segments, each consisting of 15 questions. Seneca Niagara Casino led through the first two segments and had victory in sight. “We were on pins and needles going into the last round,” said Jerry Wilke, a manager at the casino. During a break after the first segment, Wilke also won a door prize: a Buffalo hockey T-shirt.
The casino’s team had finished fourth each of the past two years, and the members came in determined to win it this time, Wilke said. His teammates were: Gina Rotella, Anthony Mangaser, Glenn Wolf and John Spagnuolo.
The winning team gets to keep the trophy until next year’s competition rolls around. Wilke said the hardware will be displayed in the table game shift office.
About 30 teams participated in the event, using electronic devices to answer questions on everything from history and sports to movies and TV shows.
“It’s a competition, but it’s a lot of fun, so it isn’t a ‘diehard, gotta win at the end,’ ” kind of thing,” said Tim Boling, chief executive officer of Cradle Beach. The event was moved to a Friday this year, instead of a weeknight, to promote it as more of a happy hour occasion.
Teams huddled to confer on the multiple-choice questions as they popped up on the display screens. The game, created by Buzztime Entertainment, rewards teams for submitting correct answers as quickly as possible; the point value of a correct response drops as the seconds tick away. Teams lose points for submitting wrong answers.
Seneca Niagara Casino won by less than 500 points – a narrow margin of victory, given that each correct answer starts with a maximum value of 1,000 points.
One early question was: Who starred as Malcolm X in Spike Lee’s movie? Lou Gossett Jr., Danny Glover, Wesley Snipes, Laurence Fishburne or Denzel Washington? The correct answer: Washington.
Another: Halley’s Comet appeared shortly before this writer was born, and the day before he died: Robert Frost, Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote or Mark Twain? Twain (1835-1910) was the right answer.
Friday’s event likely raised more than $35,000, including the $500 entry fee from each five-member team, funds from sponsors and fundraising by individual team members, Boling said.
Proceeds from the event allow Cradle Beach to provide summer enrichment camping opportunities to nearly 800 children, respite services to 128 developmentally disabled individuals, and year-round academic, mentoring and tutoring assistance through Project SOAR for 220 children at three Buffalo public schools, Boling said.
The event, presented by State Employees Federal Credit Union, was held at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.