The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

“The Geniuses” return to SMU

 The Geniuses return to SMU
Photo by Jennifer Parrish, The Daily Campus
“The Geniuses” return to SMU

“The Geniuses” return to SMU (Photo by Jennifer Parrish, The Daily Campus)

Southern Methodist University rolled out the red carpet for three of its own Wednesday afternoon.

“The Geniuses,” a three-man team from the television show “Treasure Hunters” that aired this summer on NBC, met in the Hughes-Trigg Commons at noon to talk about the competition, the stress — and the money.

Charles Taylor, Frances Goldschmid and Sam Khurana took the $3 million prize after six weeks of competition in an experience Khurana described as “the most spectacular thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

According to Taylor, “It’s like someone reached down and said ‘here’s your dream, go live it.'”

After showing clips from the season finale, Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Caswell led a brief introduction. SMU President R. Gerald Turner was also on hand for the festivities. Turner took advantage of the opportunity to crack a few jokes.

“I heard some names they came up with that weren’t sellable on national television,” he said.

He also commented on the contestants’ lack of SMU paraphernalia.

“I was calling my PR people asking why in the world can’t we sneak in something,” he said. “Give Francis another tattoo.”

Throughout the question-and-answer session, the trio remained lighthearted.

“We never took it seriously,” said Goldschmid. “Yeah we’re in Mensa. It’s not a big deal — I don’t want to be that dude who’s like ‘Hey, I’m in Mensa. Wanna have a brain fight?'”

Audience questions focused on the money, newfound fame and whether the former contestants thought they were accurately depicted.

After one audience member asked how much of the winnings went to taxes, the response was “too much.” Taylor said roughly a third of the money went to the government.

All three students are planning to use parts of the money to pay for medical school, but after that their plans differ. Khurana plans to start college funds for two of his friends’ children. Taylor is putting some of the money into his upcoming wedding.

And Goldschmid plans to help his dad set up his own business and give money to family members who are retiring.

The Geniuses met in an Organic Chemistry lab that Taylor assisted.

“Francis broke almost every instrument at one point or another,” joked Taylor. “But it really got past the usual student-TA relationship,” he said.

But when Goldschmid and Khurana were discovered — “All the other teams applied, we were found on campus by someone we didn’t know was a casting director,” said Goldschmid — they planned to work with another student who’s now doing Teach for America.

“We needed someone to balance us out,” said Goldschmid. “So as soon as Sam called and said, ‘I’ve got an idea — Charles Taylor,’ I said ‘Perfect!'”

The team also gave its thoughts on the nature of reality television.

“Whatever you saw, we had to have done,” said Taylor.

According to Khurana, producers whittled down about 720 hours of footage to one hour for every episode.

“For the most part, people will see a team the way they want to see them,” he said.

SMU sophomore Donald Taylor said he was curious to see what the Geniuses had to say about their experiences.

“I think it’s incredible that three guys from SMU actually won,” he said.

Fellow fan and SMU junior Christy Vutam agreed.

“I’ve been following the show since the second episode,” she said. When she found out Goldschmid was on the show, she said it piqued her interest.

“He was in a class of mine. He’s a great cut-up,” she said.

“Since then I’ve been rooting for the Geniuses.”

The best part of the show, said Goldschmid, was the opportunity to be a role model. “Kids really look up to you,” he said. When they ask for an autograph, he said, kids pay attention to how you respond, so it’s important to have a positive impact.

“These are moments kids remember,” he said. “It’s good to be able to do that.”


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