Category Archives: Amy Roeder

JEOPARDY!, Part 11 (and last)

Continued from Saturday, July 30.

Some people from my church, with assistance from folks at work, were planning a JEOPARDY! watching party for Monday, November 9. I could have refused, but it seemed ungracious. For some reason, I am almost as nervous about this as I was as I was being on the show; totally irrational, I know.

Unfortunately, two of my co-workers were laid off on the Friday before, and they were understandably not that interested in the party. Luckily for me and three of my colleagues, our jobs were saved. (Two others had already found new jobs.)

Sunday morning, the day before the show aired, I called Amy Roeder in Merrimack, NH. She was very helpful in putting things into perspective. Her friends who had been at the taping gave her a hard time about giving Saigon rather than Hanoi as the Final response, but I thought it was impressive that all three of us got the right country. I told her she was a great opponent, and that if she weren’t so close in score to me, I wouldn’t have bet so much, and therefore wouldn’t have won so much.

We also talked about the consolation prizes. Tom had ended up in second place and won a trip to a resort in New Jersey. (No commentary needed.) Amy, in third, got a credit card with $2500 on it. She and I agreed that she got the better deal.

The day of the show, I went to work for a half day, then went over to the Channel 10 studios to watch the feed for the show that comes in about 1:30. I had arranged this beforehand, but no one seemed to know I was coming, though they eventually did let me in. I was SO glad to have seen the show before the party.

At the church, there were about 35 people. I was seated in the front, just to the left of the set. At the first commercial break, I made a point to “go to the bathroom”, and not make it back until after my gaffe in OT Women.

After it was revealed that I won, I could answer all of those questions people had wanted to ask, many of which I ‘ve addressed, but also questions I thought were odd, such as:
“Did you know the categories beforehand?” “No.”

By the time I got home, I had over a dozen messages. My sister Leslie in California must have sent a huge e-mail distribution telling people that I was going to be on (and apparently suggesting that I lost, from my non-committal response to how well I did.), for she forwarded congratulations from people I did not know.

The next day total strangers talked with me on the street about my JEOPARDY! win. And this went on for the next 35 days.

That second night I was on my mother called me at 7:30, letting me know that she was sorry that I lost. The shows aired at 7 pm in Charlotte. The show aired at 7:30 in Albany. I never saw the second show until several days later.

Even after that 36th day, when no one commented, I got lots of comments, especially at a January 1 wedding I DJed, a Midwinter’s party I attended.

Almost immediately after the show aired, I received letters, at least six, wanting me to buy their 45s and LPs; I must admit that I never wrote back. One guy, though, wanted me to identify some half-remembered songs from his childhood. I didn’t know most of them, but I did give him a lead to “the song with the lyrics “Open up your heart and let the sunshine in”.

Oh, I can’t forget the parting gifts I received, over a two-month period: a case (12 large cans) of sweet potatoes (they were quite good, actually), OTC vitamins and other products including Centrum, a rather lovely lap blanket, a US Search coupon to try to find anyone in the United States, Pop Secret popcorn, and TWO hair curlers (!), which I didn’t need and gave away. I also got a home version of…Wheel of Fortune, not JEOPARDY!

In January 1999, I got engaged to Carol. On St. Patrick’s Day, I received a check (FINALLY!) for $17,600.

A couple days after we got married on May 15, Carol and I flew to Barbados via New York City. I never realized how far south Barbados was. We spent money to park the car at the airport, spent money on the speeding (Are we gonna die?) cab ride from the airport in Barbados to the resort, and we spent $26 to get out of the country (some sort of fee.) Everything else we needed to do was paid for: the hotel, the food, the drinks, the ride back to the airport; all courtesy of my second place finish on JEOPARDY! For some reason, we even got bumped to first class on the return flight.

Since that time, JEOPARDY! has abandoned the prizes in favor of $2000 to the second place contestant and $1000 for third place, I believe because of the logistics involved with the prizes; I had to call a few times before our trip was booked..

For a time, I made a point to call Albany-area winners. I talked to one guy named Greg who had won $3400, and he was disappointed; he thought he’d do better. I said, “You won, and that counts!” But I stopped when I called another guy and I got the sense that he thought I was a stalker.

I was amazed that people continued to recognize me, no more so than in October 1999, 11 months after the show aired, and I was at a conference in Florida when some folks I had never met from the Department of Labor in DC recognized me.

My pal Dave, used to head the Albany YMCA before he got kicked upstairs to the administrative side, went to a comedy club in Boston in 1999 or 2000, and in the entryway was a picture of three people, one of whom was me. It turned out that the performer was Amy Roeder, my worthy opponent on the show.

Winning on JEOPARDY! is a peculiar phenomenon. It’s epitomized in this story:
I was at a party talking about my work as a librarian. I had recently done a question about alpacas and I noted that they are much nicer in temperament than llamas. However, a woman I knew said: “You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About!”
I believe she thought I was suffering from Male Answer Syndrome, where a guy will ALWAYS have an answer to every question, no matter how little he actually knows, often stating opinion as fact. Then wife Carol let it be known that I was on JEOPARDY! “Well, maybe you DO know what you’re talking about!” Answering a question as a librarian, someone with a Masters degree in Library Science didn’t cut it, but an appearance or two on a game show did.

There are people to this day who expect that I know stuff, even if I don’t, which is definitely a double-edged process. All in all, though, it’s good to be able to put on the resume: “JEOPARDY! champion.”

Hope you enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane. Now when people find out that I was a JEOPARDY! champion, as they did at a reunion last month, I can tell ’em, “Just go check out my blog!”


Continued from Saturday, July 9.

Given that mental and emotional breakdown in the JEOPARDY! round, I’m not that far off the lead, only $800. While they set up the Double JEOPARDY! board, more water, more powder for the forehead.

The categories are Brahmins, The Untouchables, Television, Put ‘Em In Order, This Is Your Life – Woodrow Wilson, and Literary Crosswords “M”. Well, television should be OK, and maybe Wilson, but this is not looking great.

I start with Television for $200, get Frasier.

Television for $400-the first of the two Daily Doubles! And it’s a Video.

Score Tom $2100, Roger $2200, Amy $2800.

OK, if I bet enough, and get it right, I can take the lead for the first time! I can say, “I held the lead once!” I bet $1200. (If I get it WRONG, I’ll still have the value of the highest clue on the board.)

Jason Alexander (from Seinfeld) says on screen: “This actor co-starred with me on a sitcom called “E/R” before starring in the medical seies “E.R.”

So what do YOU think?

I actually watched the earlier show, which starred Elliot Gould, and I also read about it in People magazine after the latter show began.

“Who was George Clooney?”
“You guessed right,” Alex said. It wasn’t a guess.

Then Amy started taking off, getting several responses. I managed to get a couple in Crosswords (including Mohicans), and three under Wilson: his wife Edith ($200), his general John Pershing ($400), and his socialist nemesis Eugene Debs ($800) – that answer somehow came right out of high school social studies.

I put some Popes in order for $400.
Then I pick the $600 clue in that category. It’s the OTHER Daily Double!
With the furious back and forth, I was genuinely surprised to find that I was leading: Tom $4100, Roger $7400, Amy $7000. Put ‘Em in Order: the category made me nervous. It could be ANYTHING. If it were Chinese dynasties, I’m sunk. I bet a conservative $1000.

“Oklahoma statehood, California statehood, Nebraska statehood.”

What’s your guess?

There was this map in my Social Studies class in 5th or 7th grade. It showed the country sometime before the Civil War. All the states were in green, the territories in brown. Incongruously, past this vast expanse of territories starting in the Midwest, California was also in green.

So one thing I knew: California became a state in 1850, the year after the Gold Rush. Oklahoma became a state in the 20th Century; if you’ve seen or heard the musical, you probably know that- actually 1907.
When did Nebraska become a state? Suddenly the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 flashed in my mind; I had no idea what it meant. In any case, I said, “California statehood, Nebraska statehood, Oklahoma statehood.” That was correct. Nebraska didn’t become a state until 1867, but no matter.

I only get a couple more right, but one was pivotal to the game.

Brahmins for $800 was asking for the first prime minister of India. Amy said Gandhi, which was incorrect. I rang in, and suddenly thought, “Oh, no, I’m wrong.” My first idea was that it was Nehru, but then I recalled, no, no, he was in the 1960s. Remember the Nehru jacket? But, having nothing better to say, I replied: “Who was Nehru?” and it was correct. ( Nehru was a long-time leader. )

That was a $1600 swing late in the game. If she had gotten it right, I would have had $8800 and Amy, $9200. But instead, at the end of Double JEOPARDY!, it’s Tom $5100, Roger $9600, Amy $8400. The Final JEOPARDY! category is World Capitals. What should I bet and what will they ask?

Continued on Saturday, July 23


Continued from Saturday, July 2

I’m standing at the middle lectern between Tom, the one-day champion with $10,500, and Amy, wishing I could be back in my red sneakers rather than these suddenly uncomfortable shoes. The lights come up on my face.

Alex comes out. I’ve noticed that some of the contestants in the past have applauded him, but none of us did. Too “Wheel of Fortune,” maybe. The host, still with his trademark moustache, announces that this is the LARGEST studio audience ever to see JEOPARDY! (Gee, thanks a lot.) Then he notes that the longer he talks, the less time there is for us to win money. (Well, thank you for THAT.)

The categories were Mountains; Songs by the Numbers; Old Testament Women; The Brady Bunch; Beans; and Body Talk. I’m thinking that I’ll be strongest at Songs, OT Women and Mountains, in that order.

Songs for $100 – I know that! But so did Tom- 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Songs for $200- the song that spent 16 weeks at #1. First thought, One Fine Day, no, wait that’s not it. I OWN this song. It’s by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. What’s the title? No one got One Sweet Day.
Sidebar: a variation on this question came up a couple years later during the Regismania version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – The song longest at #1. It was a $250,000 clue. The contestant picked I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (which was correct at the time, in 1993), and lost all but $32,000. Talk about screaming at one’s TV set!

Songs for $300-Amy beats me to Knock Three Times.
A couple more questions go by that I know but don’t get the opportunity to answer.
Then Brady Bunch for $200- Like lots of JEOPARDY! categories, this one is a bit misleading. It has NOTHING to do with the 1969-1974 TV show, which is good, because I NEVER saw it in first run, and only rarely in syndication. The category was about people named Brady.
“Unlike his horse, his sidekick, Pat Brady isn’t mounted for display.” I ring in first: “What is Roy Rogers?” Alex replies, “WHO is Roy Rogers?” and I nod, but the answer is CORRECT. This means that I will not go on JEOPARDY! then answer no questions. Of course, the only reason that the others didn’t get it, I figure, is that they’re both too young to REMEMBER Roy Rogers. Ah an advantage of age.
I get a couple more, as does Tom, but Amy seems to be in control.

At the first commercial, it’s Tom $800, Roger $1100, Amy $1900. However long the commercials are at home is how long there are in the studio. I got some water, but again, couldn’t keep it. Jennifer had to re-powder my forehead because I was “shiny.”

While one sees the scores in front of the players when watching on TV, the players here don’t have such luxury. If the scoreboard is at 12 o’clock, and Alex at 1, then the scoreboard is at 10:30. I never saw it except at the daily doubles and the first commercials, and at the end of the rounds.

The interview segment: Alex asks about my music collection,. I note that I had 1200 LPs, 1000 CDs and a couple hundred cassettes. He asked if I had any specialties, and I replied, “I have an extensive Beatles collection.” Wasn’t a riveting piece, but it was OK.

During the practice session, we were told they would be using a lot of video clues. There was a $200 clue in the Beans category. The monitor seemed about a light year away. I squinted and said Orson Bean, which was correct. (Later, one of the contestants who had not yet played said that he didn’t want to play me because of THAT answer.)

So we get to Old Testament Women, one of the categories I expect to do well in.
$100- Delilah which Amy got.
$200- for reasons unclear, I said Delilah! I KNEW it was Bathsheba but the brain just picked up Amy’s response.
She asked for OT Women for $300 and I’m still literally shaking my head, beating myself up for this gaffe. “Roger!” I intoned to myself. “Come back to the game!” I never even heard that clue, and I KNEW the answer was Jezebel. But no one else got it, either. The mortification finally passed and I did get the $500 clue, which was Sarah.

Tom hits the Daily Double in Mountains, bets $900, but misses it. However, he comes back. The score after the JEOPARDY! round, Tom $2100, Roger $2000, Amy $2800.

Alex says, “Roger, you’ll go first in Double JEOPARDY!”

Continued on Saturday, July 16


Continued from Saturday, June 25.

There was a cameraman from WTEN wishing me “good luck.” Oh, this guy from Albany! Channel 10, who carries JEOPARDY!, must be here because Boston’s so close to Albany. That made sense to me. They probably would have gone to New York City as well.
This is only partially the story. They were also there because a GUY from Albany (i.e., ME) was here. Somehow my brain wasn’t making the connection until we all went back downstairs.

We get a few more instructions from the staff. Then Glenn Kagan from JEOPARDY! was going over my response card, and he asked about some of the specifics of the incidents mentioned. When he read about the LPs and CDs I had, he asked about my favorite group, to which I replied, “The Beatles.” This led to a conversation about the American Beatles albums and the two of us doing the instrumental, James Bondian, introduction to Help! Then I said, “I’m not familiar that. How does it go?” We both laughed heartily. (On videotape, this looks VERY goofy.) He also went over my Rod Serling and mountain pieces. (The Serling piece I’m saving for a particular time. The mountain story is that I tore out my knee in 1994 on one mountain and almost got blown off another 1997 – “I like sea level.”)

I met with many of the other contestants. I’m not sure if Tom Schellhammer, a lawyer from Arlington, VA, the defending champion, was present, but I barely saw him during this period. I AM sure that the WTEN cameraman was following me around the room, and that he particularly concentrated on my feet because he was fascinated by my red Chuck Taylor sneakers. (I REALLY know this, because, a few months later he gave me his raw footage of my feet and other things he filmed.)

Next, we went to makeup. Dave, one of the contestants, said to Jennifer, the makeup artist, “Don’t make me look too trampy!” Jennifer spent extra time with me, because I had the most forehead of the bunch.

It was time for us to go back upstairs and onto stage. At some point, there were pictures taken of Alex Trebek and the contestants. For some obscure reason, when I had my picture taken, Alex did the rabbit thing; you know, two fingers behind my head! I know this only because I saw him do this on a monitor; as a result, I have a JEOPARDY! pic sans host.

We did promo pieces. My eyes are darting left and right, and I’m one of the few (or perhaps the only one) who has to do it over.

Glenn explains the buzzer, and the board. There are these little white lights around the board that indicate when Alex is finished asking the question, which is when we should ring in. I see the lights as they are specifically pointed out to me, but from then on, I never see them again.

When we do the practice game, there is a host and announcer and almost everything else you’d expect for a regular game, such as the music and sound effects. The host’s name was Glenn Tate, one of those guys with those game-show-host good looks. I played against Julie and Dave. He even asks us a question for the interview segment. My question: what would I do with the money? I said that I’d buy a music box set. (It wasn’t my most inspired response.) It wasn’t a whole round, and we all had inherited scores from the previous group. I got some right, missed at least two (including one we all missed: the 5 W’s of journalism!), and we each gained $1000 in our time up there.

There are lots of media, as I’ve said, and there was a period when only a few were on stage that the rest of us were in the front row of the auditorium watching Alex getting interviewed. The media also got to play a practice game, so that they can say on their respective local broadcasts, or write in their stories, “It’s not as easy as it looks.”

Then, the interview with Bianca de la Garza from Channel 10 takes place.
She asked if I was relaxed
“I’m going to be on national television and you talk about relaxed.”
She asked about money.
I said if I concentrate on money, and don’t win any, than the joy of the experience might be lost, so I’m going to try to have fun.
I told her about many of the things I’ve already written here (Aunt Deana, trip to Detroit & DC, toothache, etc.)
She asked some other things (which you’ll read about later) in a 10-minute interview.

Others were being interviewed by local stations as well. When I finished with Bianca, I figured I was done. But no, Sharman Saccetti of Channel 18 in Elmira was there to interview me. Why? Because the station that carries JEOPARDY! in the Binghamton market , my hometown, is located 60 miles away in Elmira. (Elmira’s near Corning where my friend Judy, who gave me the ride, lived; eventually she got me a video clip). I told her the experience was “exciting, terrifying, invigorating.”
(Incidentally, Bianca, Sharman and a guy named Matt and were involved in a media practice game against each other. Sharman, who “won”, eventually moved from Channel 18 to Channel 10 in Albany, and she’s moved on from there.)
Then Channel 2 Plattsburgh wanted to talk with me. Why? I don’t know. I must have been the contestant geographically closest to them.

Finally, with talent coordinator Susanne Thurber practically dragging me off the stage to end interview #3, we return downstairs. By some method unknown to me, it was determined who the contestants who would face defending champion Tom: Amy Roeder, an actress from Merrimack, NH, and me!

So, we three go to makeup AGAIN. Maggie, a member of the staff, accompanies me to the bathroom (so that nobody could slip me answers, presumably; she DID wait outside the door.) Then back to the dressing room, where I FINALLY take off my red sneakers and put on shoes.

In those days, JEOPARDY! used to do “the walk”; the contestants would walk to the podium. (They’ve since abolished it.) But in Boston, they didn’t use it because there were wires all over the place.

I got a glass of water, but I couldn’t keep it at the podium.

I am still feeling very relaxed. Then Johnny Gilbert says, “A business librarian from Albany, NY, Roger Green.”

And my mouth goes dry.

Continued on Saturday, July 9