As I write this post I find that it has been exactly nine years since I wrote about my first Jeopardy! contestant audition in Orlando. Last week I flew to Atlanta for the Tuesday morning audition, again held at a Westin hotel. I spent a pleasant Monday evening dinner with friends Nancy Adams and her husband Chris Kinney, and an equally pleasant Tuesday morning breakfast with another friend, Kris Niedringhaus. Afterward I checked out of the slightly lower rent hotel where I had stayed, and crossed the street to the Westin. Just before the appointed hour of 11:30 I entered the waiting room, and found about thirty-five fellow contestants, all sitting very quietly. After two minutes of the silence, I asked, “Is this a conversation free zone?” The ice was broken and in a few minutes we were introducing ourselves to each other and learning about our careers, hometowns, and more.
Several minutes some of the contestant coordinators entered the room and explained what would ensure. Maggie Speak, the senior contestant producer whom I had met at my Orlando audition, joined us shortly. From there on it was nearly a carbon copy of the 2006 audition, although I felt a little more confident in myself, particularly in my social skills. Again, all of us took a fifty question test, played a few minutes of the game in groups of three, and engaged in banter with Maggie and her colleagues. Our auditions were videotaped.
Doing the math on the show, which requires eleven new contestants each week for a season of about 40 weeks, would tell us they need about 400 contestants per year, and that is what Maggie told us. They invite about 2,500 online test-takers to the in-person auditions, so statistically each of us has just under a 1 in 6 chance of being called for the show. They evaluate the contestants based on test performance and how well they will fit the show, so there is a ranking that the producers make in deciding whom to invite. We’re in the pool for eighteen months, so now it is simply a waiting game.
After the audition I rode the MARTA back to the airport and flew to Denver, site of the 2015 CALI Conference on Law School Computing. Before launching into that event I got to spend Wednesday with my long-time friends Don Mock and Anita Colin. I officiated at their wedding during my law school days, when I was a Florida notary public. We hiked on Flagstaff Mountain and had a terrifically fun day. All-in-all, it was a great week and I’ll let you know if I get the long-desired phone call.