My Experience

by Steven H Silver

The Outcome

After lunch, it was announced that I would be going up against Scott and Meg.  We took our positions behind the podiums and began the game.  Within a few questions, I had a feeling that I was not going to go any further, although I did well enough in the first round.

I had been told that Alex would probably ask me about the time I was stopped in front of the KGB Building in Moscow, but instead he chose to ask me about my job.  We continued the game and Meg gave me a run for my money, although Scott couldn’t seem to get his buzzer to function.  During the break between rounds, they checked his buzzer and declared it functional, a fact he proved in Double Jeopardy .

During Double Jeopardy , we had another break to check on an answer.  Once they were ready to continued, they played the tape back several times trying to find an appropriate starting place.  Unfortunately, that meant that I got to hear Alex informing me that I had given a wrong answer about ten times.  According to my mother, that is when my concentration went.

Before Final Jeopardy , Grant gives the contestants some advice.  In addition to the advice mentioned above, he explains that there is a blue card in case your pen stops writing, although this has never happened.  They also give the contestants paper so they can figure out their wagers.  Once the wager is placed, it is locked out so it can’t be changed and a stage hand copies the amount down onto a note pad.  The question field is then opened and the contestants are told to write either “Who” or “What” on their screen, depending on what the question should be, as a reminder that they need to answer in the form of a question.  If a word is illegible or misspelled, the judges will decide whether or not to accept the answer.

Going into Final Jeopardy , I was in third place.  The category was a nightmare category, “The Supreme Court,” which could mean anything from John Jay to Clarence Thomas.  I figured that if I made only a token bet and got it wrong, I wouldn’t be much worse off.  I also figured that at least one of my opponents would get the question wrong and I could wind up in second place, which is what wound up happening.  What I couldn’t know was that if I had wagered as little as $801, I would have won the game.

The answer was:  These two supreme court justices, who finished first in their class, were originally offered positions as typists for the court.

Unfortunately, by applying a little logic to the answer, the question becomes apparent, Who are Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the only women on the court.

My $10 bet was not enough to move me past Meg, who bet nothing and also got it right.  Scott, however, wrote only  "Frankfurter" and wagered enough that I came in second and won an HDTV, satellite dish and a year’s subscription to DirectTV.  Ironically, in 1960, Frankfurter refused to interview Ginsberg for a position because he wasn't ready to hire a woman.

After the show, with Elaine.
Outside the Green Room

Although I received a bag with a copy of the “Jeopardy!” CD-Rom (which I already had) and the “Jeopardy!” Hand-held game (which isn’t a great design), I wouldn’t receive any of the prize money ($15,001) or the second place prize until about 120 days after the show aired.  I would receive a photograph of Alex Trebek and me, however.  Also, before the prizes were sent, I would receive a tax bill for the television and the taxes would be deducted from my cash winnings.  The check arrived on October 27, 2000.

People have asked how I intend to spend the money.  This is a topic of debate in the house.  I would like to do what I had originally said and put it into a college fund for my daughter.  My wife is interested in using it to increase the down-payment on a house when we buy a new house sometime in the next couple of years.  As of now, the debate still rages.