Viewers tuning into “Jeopardy” tomorrow (June 12) can cheer for Dr. Karen Meyers, assistant director of Adult Learner Services, who will be a contestant on the show.
Ever since she was in high school and Art Fleming was host, Meyers has been playing “Jeopardy” at home along with millions of other viewers. Friends told her how good she was, and she was always faster with the answers than the TV contestants. She didn’t find out why until she was an actual contestant.
In March 2006, “Jeopardy” posted an online contestant test, allowing 15 seconds to answer each of the 50 questions. Meyers took the test along with 100,000 other aspirants and was notified that she passed. In June, she traveled to Chicago where she and the other hopefuls had to repeat the test—“presumably to make sure that someone else didn’t take it for us,” she conjectured—play a game of “Jeopardy” and undergo a personal interview. Five thousand prospective contestants were invited to auditions at various locations around the country. From this group, 400 were chosen for the contestant pool.
Meyers was selected last January and in February flew to Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif., to fulfill her longtime dream of appearing on the show. “We were sequestered, almost like being on a jury, but it was fun,” she said of her contestant experience. “The other contestants were very interesting and there was a lot of camaraderie. Strangely enough, we were asked to write something like a press release about being on the show before we’d actually played, before we won or lost.”
She wasn’t nervous at all in the weeks before the show, but when filming started, she was shaking so hard she could barely sign in. The 50-degree temperature in the studio didn’t help. She felt she was over-focused when the show began. “I couldn’t even smile, I was concentrating so hard,” she remembers.
The Toledo resident soon discovered why she always beat the contestants to the buzzer at home. The contestants can’t push the button until a light blinks.
Literature, art, film and history are the categories Meyers considers her best. So what came up? Sports. “I don’t know very much about sports,” she said, “but I did manage to answer a couple of questions.”
In all the years she watched the show, Meyers had never seen anything like what happened when the contestant next to her missed a Double Jeopardy question. “I must have made quite a face because Alex Trebek said to me, ‘Karen, you look like you know the answer,’ and he let me answer it.”
When her “Jeopardy” appearance airs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Meyers will be watching with a group of friends and coworkers at the Ground Round Restaurant on Dussel Drive in Toledo.
“I hate to have my picture taken,“ Meyers said, but, like all the contestants, she did have her photo taken with Alex Trebek. Her souvenir picture frame stands empty, waiting for the print she’ll receive after the show has been broadcast.
“Competing on “Jeopardy” is a once-in-a-lifetime event. When your run on ‘Jeopardy’ ends, whether it’s lengthy like Ken Jennings’ or only one show, you can never try again, except for occasional tournaments of champions for people who win more than a specified amount,” Meyers explained. Contestants are also banned from competing on any other quiz show for one year. Would Meyers consider trying out for another quiz show? “I would,” she said, “but not one where the contestants jump up and down.
“I enjoyed being treated like a celebrity on the way home when people in the airport spotted my ‘Jeopardy’ bag and questioned me about being on the program,” she said. On Tuesday she’ll once again be a celebrity, receiving her 30 minutes of fame and maybe fortune. Only Meyers knows the outcome and she’s not allowed to tell.