25 years since JEOPARDY! Two and a half decades since the first of my two appearances on a syndicated game show. It is one of those things that people most identify with me.
I’m not going to rehash what happened. I wrote about that way back in 2005 and subsequently. Indeed, telling about it was one of the two reasons I started the blog in the first place. But I do want to reflect on why people keep bringing it up.
In June 2023, I was at the retirement party of some teachers, including a college friend of my wife. We were at a table of people I mostly did not know. Yet someone mentioned that they heard I was on the show. Then another person asked me about it, and a third gently chastised me for not bringing it up.
People in my area have won more games than I did. A woman from my town was on a show a month before my episodes did. But I had some unique advantages.
My shows were recorded in Boston, not in southern California. This meant that WTEN, Channel 10, the Albany affiliate station showed up at the tapings, much to my surprise. And TV folks from the Binghamton area (my hometown) and, inexplicably, Plattsburgh, way in upstate NY, interviewed me before the shows aired. The reporters covering the contestants got to play some mock games, which made the stations plug MY appearances more than a player who had gone to L.A.
Someone, usually people I didn’t know, mentioned to me being on the show for 270 days straight. Then not for a few days, followed by another streak of several weeks. It was weird and nice in about equal measure.
McGuire, not McGwire
Mark McGuire was the new person who covered the local television scene for the Albany Times Union in November 1998. When I won, he mentioned Linda Zusman, a foreign language teacher from Albany, NY, who had won $12,000 on the show that aired on October 6. After Sarah Gold took home $15,001 in a show from June 14, 1999, he mentioned Linda and me. And so on.
When Mark had tired of Ken Jennings after he won about 20 games, he called or emailed me for a pull quote.
This is true: I’m SO happy I played then rather than now. The picayune scrutiny players endure from social media is exhausting, everything from apparel to missing an “easy” Final JEOPARDY!
A friend of mine asked me whether I had been invited to the Champions Wildcard that’s been taking place on JEOPARDY recently. No, all contestants are “winners who nabbed one, two, or three wins in Season 37 or Season 38.” I’m not jealous, but I do think it diminishes the game somewhat.
Yet I’m fine with those folks who never won being in the Second Chance tournament. They may have come up against a Mattea Roach, winner of 23 straight games, or 16-game winner Ryan Long.
One person I must thank publicly during my time on the show is Amy Roeder. She was the other challenger in my win. She played such a competitive game that I had to make a huge wager in FJ.
More importantly, she took my call the day before our episode aired. I was freaking out after having kept the results of the show secret for about seven weeks, and I needed to talk to someone. Because she was so personable, I got her number from directory assistance. She was very accommodating.
And now Amy is doing great things. She is “serving her second term in the Maine House of Representatives. She is the House chair of the Labor and Housing Committee.
“Rep. Roeder has worked in the arts for her entire adult life, both as an artist and administrator. She currently serves as an adjunct theater professor at the University of Maine. Additionally, she is a freelance business trainer and has worked with multiple local and national companies to address critical issues around communication, problem-solving, and organizational change management.
“Rep. Roeder is a strong advocate in Augusta for fair wages, safe working conditions, and expanded opportunities for all workers. She is particularly passionate about supporting small businesses and working to help Maine’s downtowns and Main Streets thrive.”
Oh, and she pointed out this intro to our episode.