You could say that brothers Zach and Josh Sharpe have both been pinball wizards since they each were born. Originally from New York City, the Sharpes moved to Arlington Heights in 1988 after their dad, Roger Sharpe, took a job with Williams/Bally Midway - the world's largest pinball manufacturer at the time. Roger Sharpe has been in the pinball industry since the 70s, designing games for a number of different companies, writing a book on the game, and even testifying to help legalize pinball in New York back in 1976, which led to pinball being legalized in Chicago and Los Angeles!
Both Josh and Zach went to the University of Illinois in Champaign—older brother Josh to study accounting (he is currently the Controller for Raw Thrills, Inc., a company that makes video games) and Zach to study marketing (he has worked in the advertising/marketing world ever since). In the pinball world, they are the President and Vice President of the International Flipper Pinball Association. They created the World Pinball Player Rankings back in 2006 which tracks hundreds of pinball competitions from around the world in over 20 countries, using a point system to rank players based on their performance.
Josh lives in Palatine with his wife, Amanda and Zach lives in Arlington Heights.
So if you like pinball, guys who look like Jason Biggs or hanging out with Diane Sawyer, the Sharpe brothers are two Jews you should know!
2. If time and money were limitless, where would you travel?
Josh: With over 100 IFPA endorsed pinball tournaments held each year, it would be awesome to try and hit as many as I could for a year.
Zach: I'd love to travel and set foot in every single country in the world while eating/drinking the best delicacy that each country has to offer...and of course competing in any pinball tournament that is taking place.
3. If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?
Josh: Jason Biggs from the first American Pie would be pretty good. I've been known to change between "Cool hip Josh" and "Laid back Josh".
Zach: The easy answer would be Brad Pitt, but for realistic purposes I'd go with Jason Biggs, someone who could pull off sarcasm with a touch of self-deprecating humor.
4. If you could have a meal with any two people, living or dead, famous or not, who would they be? Where would you eat or what would you serve?
Josh: The meals I enjoy the most are the ones with Zach and our friend Brian. The three of us enjoy a nice celebratory meal following the completion of any big tournament we've run. Anytime we have one of those, it means something just went really well!
Zach: While Josh's answer is pretty spot on, there wouldn't be any fun having the same response so why not… Albert Einstein and Tiger Woods, that'd be an interesting pair to eat Chicago style pizza with.
5. What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Zach: Waking up without the use of an alarm clock, followed by some sort of physical activity (golf, working out, pinball tournament), at some point watching a good movie or TV show to relax, sprinkle in an amazing breakfast/lunch/dinner to the equation and finally going out with friends at night. All of this would take plus during a sunny, non-cloudy 77 degree weather day.
Josh: Eighteen holes of golf, followed by winning a pinball tournament.
6. What do you love about what you do?
Josh: It's so enjoyable to get to compete at such a high level in something. To know that this group of players is the BEST at what we are doing brings a certain level of excitement to the action.
Zach: I've always been a big fan of doing what you love and what makes you happy in life. With a competitive fire that will probably never go away, it's exciting to compete all over the world in something I love to do (and happen to be good at).
7. What job would you have had if not the one you have now?
Josh: I was lucky enough to combine my education (CPA) with my hobby (coin-operated amusement games). Most likely I would have another accounting job in a much less exciting field. If I had to change fields entirely, I always thought being a math teacher would be fun.
Zach: If I did not end up in the world of advertising I'd say in another life I'd be an artist; painting, drawing and sculpting for a living.
8. What’s your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago?
Zach: Of course it's food related, but nothing quite beats a fresh corned beef sandwich with a huge bowl of matzo ball soup from an authentic Jewish deli.
Josh: Tuesday at Kaufmann's in Skokie has $2 off sandwiches, and their corned beef is amazing. Between corned beef and saving money, I can't think of anything more Jewish!