Adam Pan, an Environmental L.L.M. student at GW recently appeared as a contestant on Jeopardy in a show that aired the night of Tuesday, March 31. While many students like to play along with Alex Trebek and his contestants from the comfort of their living rooms, Adam had the opportunity to play the game live, with real money at stake and real contestants to compete with.
According to Adam, the real experience is much different than the one you get while watching the show from home. As he explained, "It feels a lot faster than watching on television. Also, when you get there you realize that it's not just about knowing the answer to the question - just because you know the answer doesn't mean you're going to get the money because at least one other person on the stage probably knows it as well."
Although he is not an avid Jeopardy fan, Adam says that he got the idea to try out for the show while watching it on television one evening. According to Adam, "they said you could do an online test to try out and I thought it would be fun, so I gave it a shot." Not only did Adam succeed in this fifty question on-line test, he also passed a subsequent fifty question test that was given here in D.C., as well as a live simulation round complete with an answer buzzer. In addition to these tests, the show also asked Adam for any interesting tidbits of information that could be used for a discussion with Alex Trebek following commercial breaks.
Adam proved successful and was soon invited to Sony Picture Studios in Culver City, California, to play as a contestant in an upcoming show. While the show does not offer travel or accommodations for contestants and their guests, Adam was able to stay with his grandparents, who live only ten minutes away in Los Angeles, California. Adam also notes that the show gives a prize to all contestants, with third place receiving $1,000, second place $2,000, and the winner being awarded the full sum of his Jeopardy earnings, so that any travel expenses would ultimately be repaid by the show.
Upon arrival at the studio, Adam was greeted by a staff that he describes as "very friendly and professional." With all the contestants' nerves being high, he explains that the staff "puts a lot of makeup on you." Still, he says that if you look closely, you may be able to catch his face twitching from nerves - a reaction that he has never before experienced.
Once the taping began, Adam found himself competing with two other qualified contestants, a fact that did not surprise him. Still, he explains that winning the most money "is sort of luck," depending upon "if you get your rhythm right hitting the buzzer, as most of the contestants know the answers to 75-80% of the questions." He explains that the buzzer itself "is tricky. They read the whole question and then a light comes on before you can even try to answer. If you hit the buzzer too early, you're timed out for a fifth of a second." Therefore, he states that "when you watch the show, you might see people try to hit the buzzer several times because they have been timed out."
Despite battling the buzzer, Adam enjoyed his experience. He states, "it was really fun to see what doing that show is like in real life, and to know that I could actually compete and answer questions correctly. It's a 22 minute show and it goes by incredibly fast."
Although he has class on the night the show is to be aired, Adam's professor is planning on bringing in a television so that he can watch with his classmates.
While friends, family, and classmates are excited to see Adam go toe-to-toe with his fellow contestants, Adam "doesn't really want to watch" himself on television. Still, Adam says that he will definitely go on the show again if he ever has the chance.