My Experience

by Steven H Silver

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Alex Trebek really like?

Your guess is as good as mine.  The sum total of my discussions with him can be seen on tapes of the three days I appeared on the show.  He doesn’t see the contestants before the show because he is afraid he might let something slip and cause a contestant to be disqualified.  After each show, Alex, and the winner, have a total of about ten minutes to change clothes before the next show begins.  He doesn’t eat lunch with the contestants and leaves as soon as the final show is taped.


Do you have to pay taxes on the prizes?

Yes.  Taxes are deducted from the cash prizes before the check is mailed.  Before a prize is sent out, the recipient receives a bill for the tax on the prize.  The bill must be paid before the prize is delivered.


When do you get your prizes?

According to the people at Kingworld, prizes are generally sent out about 120 days after the show’s air date.


Why is there a delay?

Although I haven’t been told, I imagine it is so they can continue to accrue interest on the amount for another four months.


Does the show send you a list of categories to study?

No.  They send a contract, a set of directions to the study, a page explaining what you need to bring (changes of clothing, social security card, etc.), and the name of a hotel which will offer a discount to contestants.


Did you study for the show?

No.  I figured that studying would be too haphazard and wouldn’t allow me to fully incorporate the information.  The only preparation I did was to read from Alex Trebek’s The “Jeopardy!” Book, speak to Paul and work crossword puzzles, which I would have done anyway.


Does the show pay for your trip?

No.  The contestants are fully responsible for paying for their flights, hotels, food, and any other expenses incurred.


How many days did you tape?

“Jeopardy!” tapes five shows a day.  The shows will run over the course of a week, Monday through Friday.  Since my shows ran Tuesday-Thursday, they were the second, third and fourth shows taped that day.  Contestants had to be at the studio by 9:00 and the taping started at 11:00.  There was a lunch break (which they paid for) between the third and fourth shows.


What were your Final Jeopardy questions?

Day One:  Jason-Steven-Kari

Category:  Famous Scientists

At this scientist’s death in 1727, he left behind several thousand pages of writings about alchemy and the occult.

Who was Isaac Newton?  (Kari and I answered correctly, Jason answered Francis Bacon.  Kari took second, Jason took third).

Day Two:  Steven-Mary-Allen

Category:  Airport Codes

This airport takes its three letter designation from its former name—Orchard Place.

What is O’Hare?  (Allen answered Buffalo, thinking of Orchard Park, NY, Mary answered Orlando.  Allen took second and Mary took third.)

Day Three:  Steven-Scott-Meg

Category:  The Supreme Court

These two Supreme Court justices who finished first in their class were offered jobs as typists at major legal firms.

Who are Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg? (Meg and I answered correctly, Scott answered Frankfurter.  Meg came in first, Scott came in third.)


How did you “fix” the Final Jeopardy question on the second day?

I didn’t.  It was the luck of the draw.  Similarly, on the first day, I almost mentioned a book called Newton’s Cannon which is about Newton’s researches into the occult.  It could have dramatically altered the results of the game if I had.