Q&A with Monica

Photo provided by Monica

Monica, former member of the class of 2012, won $100,000 on the Final Jeopardy this February

What was the audition process like?

First you take the test online. Second, you get invited to an in-person audition (expenses NOT paid) if you make a certain score on the online test (rumored to be 35 out of 50). At said audition you take another written test, play a fake buzzer game to check your fine motor skills, and talk to the staff to make sure you’re not a complete crazy shut-in. Afterwards, they tell you to wait for a call by a certain date (they told us February 2012), and if you don’t get the call by then, sorry come again next year.

How much did you study/how did you study?

I probably should’ve studied some more (ha, the Bible), but I spent some time on a website with archived games going through the clues to gauge what I knew. When I wasn’t doing that I raided Sparknotes for blurbs on classical literature (which actually helped!).

Any tips/tricks for remembering random facts?

I find that putting facts to an interpretive dance routine really helps me remember. Unfortunately on TV, it looks a little odd if you stand there hopping up and down like a nutter, so I had to try to keep that to a minimum during taping.

Was it hard to keep your victory a secret?

I told a couple of people, and then somehow a lot more people seemed to know than I had told… someone snitched! Tsk tsk. I think some of it might have been my curiously giddy reaction when people asked me how I did. I’m pretty bad at hiding smiles.

Most nerve-racking moment on the show?

I think every time someone else got a Daily Double I had an inner flip-out. They tell us to clap, but within I was thinking “OH NO YOU DIDN’T. I hope it’s terribly difficult and you bet a lot of money and then you lose.” (Nothing personal, though!)

At Hockaday, you were a champion of the spelling and geography bees. How did those experience prepare you (or not prepare you) for Jeopardy?

I think being in all those bees gave me good practice in handling stressful on-the-spot situations, but none of them involved buzzing, which was definitely the most difficult part. I did a lot of indignant fist-shaking in my brain whenever I would get beat on the buzzer.

Most random thing learned?

Did you know Alex Trebek drives a white pickup truck? Well he does. True life.

So how did that duck face picture go down?

I swore to myself that I would have that duckface picture the day I got the call to be on the show. They had us each take our official photo with Alex during the first commercial break of our quarterfinal show, so right after we took my nice photo; I asked (very, very awkwardly) “Can I… have a silly one?” The photographer and the staff gave each other confused looks, but they acquiesced. I’m pretty sure Alex was like “well, this is one crazy chick” because I had to explain to him how to make the face… he put the deuces up on his own, though. And when Alex Trebek chucks the deuce up, so do you.

– Compiled by Caroline