Talking With Cesar Paolini, the Best HQ Player in the World

Photo: HQ

Almost every day, HQ — the viral trivia app from the creators of Vine — splits up two $1,500 prizes among all of the many winners of its two live trivia games. I say “almost” because, well, sometimes, there’s only one, very good (and very lucky) winner. Yesterday, Cesar Paolini was the only player in the 3 p.m. game to answer all 12 questions correctly, meaning that instead of having to split the game’s $1,500 prize with other winners, Paolini got to keep the whole thing for himself. That single win made him HQ’s highest all-time winner. The next player, @AllanG, has won several games and has still only made $821. Chump change.

Select All caught up with Paolini, who is a Miami-based father of three who, when he’s not kicking all of our asses in trivia, works in finance at an oil consulting company. He said his big win coincided with his son’s first birthday. Which seems like a pretty good way to celebrate. Paolini talked to us about trivia, HQ cheaters, and what comes next after you become the world’s best trivia player — a very official designation I definitely am qualified to bestow — in a single afternoon.

Hey, Cesar. Congrats on your big win. So when did you start playing HQ?
I downloaded HQ after reading about the controversy where they were supposedly firing Scott over some media interviews that he gave. I think I first played it on November 30th, after reading about the game.

Are you a frequent trivia player? Do you watch Jeopardy!?
I enjoy trivia, but I am not a frequent trivia-game player. On the few times that I have watched Jeopardy!, I usually get the correct answer. I haven’t watched Jeopardy! in at least five years. I would really enjoy trying to play the real game! I have always been pretty good at trivia games like Trivial Pursuit, but I rarely play anything. I am a big sports fan, and I am really good at sports trivia.

Was this your first HQ win?
I have played HQ about ten times in total. The most questions I had gotten correct before Wednesday was seven. Most of the time, I had gotten six correct answers.

Did you think the questions were hard?
I thought the questions on Wednesday were hard, but for some reason or another, I knew most of the answers immediately. A lot of people were thrown off by a question about Venezuela, which I was able to get because I am originally from there. It all seemed like a blur. After the eighth question, the app had a lot of lag, and I stopped hearing the host. I couldn’t see video of him, either, only the actual questions would show up, so I was more stressed about there being an issue with connectivity and not being able to finish playing.

Were there any questions where you guessed, or did you know everything cold?
I am almost ashamed to say that I did guess an answer correctly, and it was the last one. I am a big Harry Potter fan, and when I started reading the question, I thought that it would be easy for me. I knew that one of the choices was obviously incorrect, so I guessed between the other two choices.

Did you Google any of the answers?
I do not Google any answers, I find it impossible to type and read that fast, I don’t think there is enough time to do that.

Will you keep playing HQ now that you’re the top-earning player in the world?
I will keep playing HQ, although I know that the probability of winning again is very low. Even tonight, I sneaked out ten minutes to play while my wife was giving our birthday boy a bath. I got seven questions right. It wasn’t one of my proudest parenting moments!

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Talking With Cesar Paolini, the Best HQ Player in the World