My Experience

by Steven H Silver

Sitting in the Audience

Grant announced that Jason would face off against Ted Miller and Camille Brovold, the two contestants left over from the day before.  The three of them were sent to Jennifer to receive touch-ups on their make-up.

They shepherded the remaining ten future contestants into the audience, which was already full.  I sat on the aisle of the first row.  Across the aisle from me was a woman I had never seen, my parents, wife and cousin.  We had been warned not to communicate with our guests since it could result in our disqualification.  Our guests had been warned even more harshly that even waving to us could result in our disqualification.  I later found out that the woman on the end of the aisle was Jason’s mother.

Jason completely dominated the first game.  The single-day record for winnings on “Jeopardy!” is $34,000.  Although Jason could have set a new record, he chose to bet conservatively in Final Jeopardy .  Nevertheless, he finished the game with $28,000, the fourth highest single-day total, which set his four day winnings at close to $60,000.  The contestants in the audience looked at each other and it was clear we were all thinking that we didn’t want to go up against Jason in his fifth game.

Grant walked over to the front of the audience and announced the sacrificial lambs (although he politely called them challengers) for the second game.  The first name was Kari Elias, who had been on the bus over to the studio with me.  I was the second name he called off.  We rose from our seats and went to get our makeup touched up in the Green Room.  The other contestants were led off after us.

I later learned that when my wife and mother realized I would be facing Jason, their hearts sank.  Jason had demonstrated that he was a power house player, not only knowing the categories, but quite competent with the buzzer.  They figured we had traveled all this way only to have me go up against the invincible.  With a mother’s optimism, my mom tried to reflect that their was no reason to think I couldn’t beat Jason, but her hope seems to have been half-hearted at best.  I know that my goal at that point was simply to enjoy my half hour on “Jeopardy!” and to do the best I could.  Perhaps second prize would be a trip somewhere nice.

Grant held out two slips of paper in his hand, asking Kari and me to each pick one to determine which podium we would stand behind.  Each selecting the paper closest to us, I wound up on podium two, next to Jason.