How I Lost on Jeopardy!

Now that my show has aired I can finally talk all about my trip and the taping. Despite the fact that I did not win, I still had a fabulous experience. I wish I could do it again just because it was so much fun (and I'd love another shot at some money, of course). Alas, it is a once-in-a-lifetime gig so I guess I'll just have to write it all down here so I can relive the memories any time I want to.

I tried out back in March and knew that I would be in the contestant pool for about a year. Since this was my fourth tryout (and the third that landed me in the contestant pool), I really was not holding my breath waiting for a call. When my mom was here in July we decided to take the kids to Thanksgiving Point one morning. As we walked back in the house after lunch the phone was ringing; I checked the caller ID and nearly peed my pants when it said "Sony Pictures" with a California number. They invited me to come down to Los Angeles for a taping on August 30th. That was a really busy week for us and it was Little Dude's first day of school, but I didn't care. I immediately booked plane tickets and hotel and started watching the show and practicing ringing in by clicking a pen while I watched. I also spent some time reviewing things like U.S. presidents and state and world capital cities, but I actually didn't spend too much time practicing because I know that there's not much new information you can learn and remember in six weeks.

I asked Mr. Fob to come with me to Los Angeles because he is still a good friend (we were still married at the time, too) and I just didn't want to go alone. We flew down the night before, and my dad met us at the airport since he decided to come to the taping too. I was really glad we didn't have to rent a car and that he could drive us around since I don't know the area well at all. We checked into our hotel fairly late, but were starving so we ordered some quesadillas and a hummus plate from room service. I think we were feeling a little decadent at that point.

I got up early the next morning and got ready. I had ordered breakfast from room service; I knew we would get things like pastries at the taping, but I didn't want to spend the day high on sugar. I had ordered oatmeal, which did come, but for some reason I got tomato juice instead of apple. Oatmeal and tomato juice don't really go well together. The hotel provides a shuttle to take all the contestants to the studio in the morning, so I hopped on that with everyone else and we headed out to the Sony lot.

When we got there we spent some time filling out some forms and getting make-up on. I actually resisted the free pastries simply because I didn't want to mess up my lipstick. We also had some time to practice on the set and tape our "Hometown Howdies". I was a little nervous, but generally felt relaxed and excited. All the people who work for the show are really friendly and enthusiastic so that put me at ease. It was also fun to hang out with all the other contestants during the day too.

They tape a week's worth of shows in one day and they randomly pick contestants for each one. We got to sit in our own part of the audience, but were given explicit instructions to not look at or wave at our family members sitting nearby. That was actually kind of hard for me. I got to sit through the taping of three shows without being called to compete. It was also hard not to say any of the answers or make any comments during the taping. After the first three shows, those of us who had not taped got a chance to go get lunch. We had an escort accompany us over to the cafeteria for lunch, again with threats about looking at or talking to anyone. I made a joke about being on a tour of North Korea with our government minder keeping us in line. I was tempted by the burgers and pizza, but in order to keep my stomach happy I got some pasta with vegetables and goat cheese. It was delicious.

After we came back from lunch I found out that it was my turn to play. At that point I was glad that I had not eaten a big, greasy lunch because I started feeling a bit nervous. They touched up my makeup and put on my microphone, and it was time to go on stage. If you are really a nerd, you can actually look up the game here and see all of my stats. In some ways it was easier than I had expected; it did go by fast, but I didn't feel very nervous at all, and with the lights I really wasn't aware of the audience. At the same time, getting the buzzer timing was tricky, even with the practicing at home that I had been doing. I started out strong during the first round, but my confidence started to falter a bit after I guessed one answer wrong and then misspoke on another. I still can't believe that sometimes I opened my mouth and found something completely different from what I expected to say coming out. I also regretted missing out on the daily double, since it was such an easy one. I should not have been afraid of the sports category after all, especially since I got the first question in it right.

When the second round started, I was down a bit in points but still felt like I could come back from it. I had a good time, despite another stupid mistake (I constantly mis-remember Kilimanjaro as being in Kenya and you'd think by this point I would actually know that fact). I also knew the Thomas Paine question but was too unsure to ring in since it was close to the end of the game and I had made some mistakes at that point. And then I got the Daily Double. I was behind and I felt confident in the category, so I decided to take a chance and bet fairly big. Unfortunately the clue was tricky, and as soon as they mentioned Rogaine I began thinking "baldness" and completely drew a blank. Perhaps if I had thought "hair" or "hairline" my mind might have figured it out, but as it was I had no idea.

And then came Final Jeopardy! If you look at my stats, I answered most of the questions and I was doing all right, but Final is usually what makes or breaks the game. Once again I just got a bad question for me. After writing down my answer I realized that it probably was one of the BeeGees, but I don't know much about them so I had no idea. I had also researched some betting strategies for Final Jeopardy but had a hard time remembering them in the heat of the moment. There really isn't much you can do when you're in third place and the two other people know the answer.

After losing my game I collected my stuff and went to sit in the audience with Mr. Fob and my dad so we could watch the last game. I felt disappointed, but I also felt like I had done well and tried my best so I didn't feel as upset as I had thought I would be. After we were done at the studio we drove out to Santa Monica to a nice seafood restaurant on the ocean for dinner. I also insisted that we stop at Trader Joe's while were driving around so I could get some treats. We flew out early the next morning. Overall I feel good about the experience. I wish it could have gone differently, both in the sense of me doing a better job and in the sense of getting better questions to answer.


Hey, you answered more questions correctly than either of the other contestants. That's pretty cool.
Earth Sign Mama said…
Wow, you kicked butt on the correct answers catagory on the stats page! A stats page??? Who does that?? But it's a cool resource. I'm glad you had a fun time. I'm with you on wishing you'd have won a whole bunch of money. Next year, try out for the Millionaire show--you'll rock on that one, too.
Jenny said…
I still think it is so cool you were on Jeopardy and kept it together. Congratulations!
rantipoler said…
This is SO cool! What a great experience. :)
Desmama said…
I was away this last Thursday and didn't get to watch you, but I left my husband with explicit instructions to tape the game (which he watched without me!). So tonight is the night I'm going to watch you! Yay! When I told my sisters, whom I was with this weekend, that you were my friend AND on Jeopardy! they were impressed. Thanks for making me look smart by association. ;)
Lindsay said…
You were awesome! And so poised! I was definitely impressed. :)
Carina said…
I am jealous!

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