Elizabeth Feltner got the text on her birthday, Sept. 21, 2021—did she have a few minutes to discuss becoming a contestant on the long-running, beloved game show, “Jeopardy!”?
The answer? What is ‘Hell, yes?’
Feltner, a fifth-year political science and business administration major at Northeastern and an avid “Jeopardy!” fan, had applied to be in the National College Championship nearly a year before she received the text. She ended up speaking with one of the show’s producers on Sept. 22, and soon she was spending Thanksgiving weekend competing with 36 other college students for a grand prize of $250,000 and bragging rights as the Jeopardy! National College Champion. The competition, which boasts a prime-time spot on ABC at 8 p.m., begins airing tonight.
“It was an incredible experience. Everyone was so nice,” says Feltner, who had applied to be a contestant three times before she was invited on the popular quiz show.
“We were sitting there and doing a practice round on our first day, and they showed us the intro they’d be playing before each show,” says Feltner. ”It was 9 a.m. and I was on the verge of tears, like, ‘How did this happen? How is this real life?’ ”
Overwhelmed with emotion, Feltner remembers small details that impressed her throughout the four-day filming schedule at the famous “Jeopardy!” stage in Culver City, California.
“It was kind of cool, because if you’re a ‘Jeopardy!’ nerd like me, you know that at the end of every episode there’s this thing that comes across the screen that says ‘Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.’ I was so excited to be there,” says Feltner.
Other highlights include the “Jeopardy!” podiums, which have a holster for the hand-held buzzer and a pen and paper just in case the computerized blue tablet screen fails to work. Depending on their height, contestants stand on mobile risers that elevate contestants so they appear to be roughly the same height.
The collegiate clash will be different than previous years—a whopping 36 students will be competing instead of 15. The bigger cast meant producers had a packed filming schedule, which gave the students more time to get to know each other.
”I didn’t expect to become friends with everyone,” says Feltner, who spent the two month period before filming boning up on various “Jeopardy!” questions and subjects.
”They use Shakespeare a lot,” says Feltner, who also brushed up on her geography lessons.
Other changes were a little melancholy. Students weren’t allowed any guests. Feltner says she would have brought her parents to watch had the show happened during pre-pandemic times. And while Feltner misses legendary host Alex Trebek, who died in 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, “Jeopardy!” special games host Mayim Bialik did a great job.
“She was fabulous. She was very, very nice to everyone. She would chat with us when we were just standing on stage in between shots,” says Feltner.
Filming wrapped up the Monday after Thanksgiving, and while she was able to tell her family about the results, she still has to keep a tight lid on her performance.
“All my friends are pestering me,” says Feltner. “To this day, the only people who know how I did are the people who work at “Jeopardy!” and my parents and sister.”
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