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HomeHealthcareWhat It’s Prefer to Lose on ‘Jeopardy’

What It’s Prefer to Lose on ‘Jeopardy’


The night time earlier than my episode of Jeopardy aired on nationwide tv, I had a nightmare. Within the dream, everybody who knew me in highschool gathered in a cafeteria to observe and snicker—at how I’d aged, at my flubbed makes an attempt to hit the buzzer, at each incorrect reply. Their laughter chased me down the bizarre hallways of my thoughts. I wakened coated in sweat and freaking out.

My husband, nevertheless, wakened excited. “You’re going to be on TV tonight! Isn’t it wonderful?”

Provided that he meant the unique definition of wonderful—which is nearer to “terrifying.”

Within the 10 weeks between the taping of the episode and when it aired, my reminiscence of what had occurred grew fuzzy. Jeopardy’s strict guidelines prevented me from discussing the outcomes with anybody—solely my husband and fellow contestants knew how I’d finished. I remembered the ultimate consequence, clearly, however I couldn’t fairly recollect how I’d gotten there. As my air date approached, I spotted that I used to be extra scared to observe than I had been to play.

I someway made it by the day, doing my greatest to keep away from the messages from pals who dwell in markets the place Jeopardy airs sooner than 7 p.m. We’d deliberate a watch celebration at a bar in south Pittsburgh, and by the point I arrived, my pals had already crammed up two lengthy, elevated tables. I settled uncomfortably right into a too-tall chair that made me really feel like a baby.

After turning 10 televisions to the proper channel, the proprietor of the bar introduced to everybody that I’d be showing on the present. “Now we have an actual Jeopardy contestant with us tonight. You gonna win?” he requested. I shrugged, making an attempt to look mysterious as a substitute of like somebody about to vomit.

Strangers cheered and clapped. My pals made “whoo” sounds. My large face appeared on the display screen—“a author from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Adriana Ramírez.” I smiled, or a minimum of stretched my mouth right into a form conveying optimism. I used to be about to lose—and lose exhausting.

Trivia reinforces that we dwell in a tradition that prioritizes successful. We keep in mind what guide received a Pulitzer in 1937 (Gone With the Wind), the movie that received the Greatest Image Oscar in 2000 (American Magnificence), and which horse received the Kentucky Derby in 2022 (Wealthy Strike). The losers are too plentiful and too obscure to recall—until, after all, the loss transcends oblivion (see: Al Gore).

But when tens of millions of individuals play trivia-based video games every single day partly to indicate that they know greater than their pals and friends, the impulse goes deeper than that.

Information, not like wealth or privilege, are accessible to anybody keen to acquire them. The acquisition of data is just not restricted by language or lot. My household moved from Mexico to Texas after I was a child; my mother and father, each achieved, understood the worth of schooling for social mobility. Trivia felt like a type of energy that was inside my attain.

I began taking part in trivia as a child, with my of us, on automobile rides to San Antonio and throughout the border to Monterrey. It was a solution to study in regards to the locations we visited—my mom confirmed our solutions with a guidebook. We referred to as this Ramírez Household Trivia. And I cherished it. I cherished figuring out random information as a lot as I cherished successful.

Trivia technically means “unimportant data.” However in sure contexts, all information have worth. After I took my naturalization check at age 12 to grow to be a United States citizen, I used to be requested 10 questions on American historical past and governance. Hours of Ramírez Household Trivia on a highway journey to Washington, D.C., had ready me greater than studying a research information had. Nothing about that felt trivial.

I’ve stored up with my trivia behavior through the years, captaining my high-school quiz staff, prevailing over strangers in weekly pub trivia nights in my 20s, and now competing within the championship of my on-line league. Final 12 months, my husband satisfied me to check out for Jeopardy with him. He made it to the second stage of auditions and plans to strive once more as quickly as he can. I knew it was an extended shot, so I didn’t assume I had an opportunity—whilst I made it to the second and third levels.

After I received the cellphone name telling me I’d made it onto the present this previous February, I stood in my kitchen, doing my greatest to sound human as my legs and arms shook. After hanging up, I made a decision I had two targets: don’t embarrass myself on nationwide tv, and do my greatest to win.

However competing on Jeopardy is just not the identical as outsmarting folks on the dive bar down the road. The contestants on my episode have been as effectively practiced as I used to be, as pushed to win as I used to be, and—as I discovered—quicker beneath stress.

Jeopardy is a real meritocracy. The one solution to make it onto the present is to cross two totally different on-line assessments and a observe sport on Zoom. There are not any shortcuts—solely appropriate and fast solutions to arbitrary clues can get you thru.

At our taping in March, the producers instructed us that greater than 100,000 folks had taken the preliminary on-line check in 2021. About 400 contestants compete in a daily season of Jeopardy, which implies that 99.6 p.c of people that took the primary check final 12 months didn’t make it to the Alex Trebek Studio. The identical 12 months, Harvard rejected 96.6 p.c of candidates.

One of many core tenets of trivia is “you both understand it otherwise you don’t.” Nobody can know every thing; studying and memorizing lists of information can take you solely to date. Earlier than I competed, I spent weeks listening to a ton of classical music, assuming that opera or composers would possibly come up. Neither did.

Throughout my watch celebration, my nerves took over and I started pacing the bar. For a minor eternity, I watched as my rivals buzzed in repeatedly—and puzzled if I had ever answered something. Abruptly, I heard the host, Mayim Bialik, say “Adriana” after a clue about literary bears.

I watched myself reply “Who’s Paddington?” incorrectly. One other contestant buzzed in with the proper phrase, “Who’s Mild Ben?” My pals murmured in sympathy.

Each time I buzzed in on the tv, the bar cheered. The eight occasions Tv Me answered appropriately, Actual Me received approving seems and massive smiles. Somebody purchased me a beer. I started to loosen up.

After the Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy rounds, Tv Me ended up with a destructive rating and sat out Closing Jeopardy, in accordance with the foundations. I keep in mind Tv Me wishing she may write down a wager and reply.

The clue flashed on-screen. “Johnny Mercer’s lyrics to this 1961 Oscar-winning music as soon as started, ‘I’m Holly.’”

“Do you know it?” the proprietor of the bar requested me.

I nodded. “What’s ‘Moon River’?”

“Good for you!”

On our Jeopardy-contestant textual content thread, everybody was supportive. Ryan Lengthy, who defeated everybody who challenged him within the 5 episodes that filmed that day, didn’t rub his greatness in our faces. We largely complimented each other’s wit and bemoaned our losses.

And that’s the factor about Jeopardy: Everybody loses ultimately. Even Lengthy, after a 16-game successful streak, needed to take an L on nationwide tv. However as I got here to know whereas watching myself on tv, there’s no disgrace in that loss.

Within the bar that night time, I used to be flooded with recollections. I remembered being a child struggling to call rivers and scientists. The tears I cried at getting one thing incorrect, the delight I’d really feel when the reply lastly got here to me in a breath of readability, the way in which I’d giggle with victory when my mother and father couldn’t reply one among my questions—these have been the enjoyable elements of the sport, tears included.

We put an excessive amount of inventory in successful—dreaming of glory, cash, or fame. I discover there’s grace in loss, and all the time a great story. To lose, choose your self up, and stroll away unscathed? Nothing is extra human, or extra badass. What we regularly overlook is why we play within the first place: for the sheer enjoyable of it. When you had instructed me after I was a lady that I’d sooner or later get to be on Jeopardy, I’d not have believed you. I actually wouldn’t have apprehensive about shedding.

I had anticipated to be crushed with embarrassment when the episode ended. I wasn’t, not even a bit bit. Don’t get me incorrect—I’ve regrets. I’ll by no means combine up Paddington and Mild Ben once more. However I got here out stronger on the opposite aspect, and in addition a bit humbler.

On the way in which house from the bar that night time, my husband beamed with satisfaction. I scrolled by my messages. Folks I hadn’t heard from in a decade have been posting on social media about my look. Childhood pals despatched emails to an previous Yahoo tackle—“Was that you just?” Nobody cared that I’d misplaced. Most individuals have been merely impressed. I, an individual they knew, had made it onto Jeopardy.

Nearly 10 million folks noticed me lose on nationwide tv, and I’ve by no means felt extra cherished. One of many producers referred to as Jeopardy “a great trauma,” and the phrase has caught with me. I’ve since amended it to one thing extra correct: “an wonderful trauma.”

In one of the best sense of the phrase.

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