Your burning Jeopardy! questions answered

     Here’s the first of three installments of a chat I had with Stephen Weingarten, 4-time Jeopardy! champ and 2010 Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist. Stephen was also a “giant-slayer:” His first victory was a win was over another Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist, Ryan Chaffee. Stephen earned more than $98,000 over his five episodes.  (Special thanks to Jon, one of my followers, for “practicing” chatting with me, as I had not used that particular program before!)

Jeanie: I read your “winner’s blog” on the Jeopardy! website. How did you feel you did after the audition in Seattle?

Stephen: I felt pretty good, but I didn’t have any idea if it went well or not. Part of the audition was to play a mock Jeopardy! game. Maggie Speak would call people up to the front of the room, and they would use a signalling device to compete against each other, and then answer an Alex-type question about themselves. I was called last, and, because there were only 20 people there (instead of 21 for some reason), I only had one opponent instead of two. Didn’t know if that was a good sign or a bad one (or if it meant nothing). What I told people afterwards who asked me how it went was that I wouldn’t be surprised if they called, but that I also wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

Jeanie: Did you have to take a Jeopardy! test that day, too?

Stephen: Yep. They had a video projector and screen, and they projected, if I recall corrrectly, 50 questions for about 15 seconds each. We all had an answer sheet to write down our responses. They then left the room to check the papers, and told us we were welcome to discuss the test among ourselves. Once we left the room, however, they asked us to keep mum about what was on the test because they give the same one to every group. Then Maggie said something like, “I mean, why would you want to help your competition anyway?” I raised my hand and said I knew why! To dilute the pool so you would face weaker players in your actual game, I said. Maggie then acted like she was mad I would say something like that. Again, I wasn’t sure if she was serious or not, and it made me worry I had blown my chance just to make a joke.

Jeanie: Oh, no! At least you can take the test again and again, if you have to. Maybe the joke actually helped you. Was this the first time you tried out?

Stephen: Yep, the first time I took the online test I got a tryout, and the first time I tried out, I got the call.

Jeanie: Amazing. You said in your winner’s blog that you weren’t nervous when you got to the set. Were you nervous when your taping began? If so, did anything help you cope?

Stephen: I wasn’t really nervous, to be honest, at least I didn’t feel nervous. My forehead kept sweating a lot, which I guess means my body was acting like I was nervous, but mentally I was pretty focused on the task at hand. I just really, really wanted to win.

I felt like I could win, too.

     Ever wondered what it feels like to lose on Jeopardy!? Stephen tells us in part two, tomorrow night.

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