By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Alphabet Streets resident Jim Cooper—a fan of the long-running television game show “Jeopardy!”—reigned champion on the Thursday, March 4 episode, walking away with $17,300.
Cooper shared with the Palisadian-Post that his fascination with “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” dates back over 20 years. When he was in grad school, he and his roommate went down to the show’s studio to take the written exam, which is the first step to becoming an eligible contestant for “Jeopardy!”
Cooper’s roommate passed and went on to appear on the show, but Cooper did not. Years later, he decided to give it another shot.
“It was fun because I got a chance to cheer him on … but in the back of my mind, I was like I wonder if I can pass it now, so I signed up for it,” Cooper said. “It started as a lark, I [wanted] to take the test and see how much more difficult or the same it was from 20 years ago.”
He took the online exam in January 2020 and didn’t hear anything for months. He eventually received an email on his birthday in April asking him to audition for the show via Zoom. Before he knew it, he was booked to film.
In preparation for the show, Cooper said he purchased a Nintendo Wii “Jeopardy!’ video game, which he described as a “saving grace.”
Days before Cooper was set to shoot, it was announced that Alex Trebek, the long-running host of the game show, had died. Trebek taped his final episode on October 29, 2020, and Cooper visited the studio to film in January 2021.
Cooper, a screenwriter and producer for Dreamworks, Pixar and Disney, admitted being on the opposite end of the camera was “horrible.”
“I wasn’t phased by it being a TV show or a studio … I was just so nervous, watching it, I can hear it in my voice,” Cooper said. “I went into the first commercial negative $400, and going through my head, I thought I had made a horrible mistake. But somewhere along the lines, I started getting them right and in a weird sort of way, that lifted the fear.”
Cooper’s score started picking up, and he said being a screenwriter had its perks: “Apparently, screenwriters are good at trivia, we read a lot of random things and research.”
Cooper went on to become a Jeopardy champion that night, earning more than $17,000. He returned the next evening, losing to Laura Portwood-Stacer and walking away with $2,000.
Cooper said he couldn’t believe how many people still actively watched the show. He had friends from preschool, grad school, community members and more reaching out to let him know how excited they were to see him on the show.
“The person who seemed to be the most happy for me was my grad school roommate who had been on the show,” Cooper revealed. “He didn’t end up winning his episode so he was like, ‘Aw, you beat me,’ but being 50 years old, you know so much more stuff than when you’re 25. It was a lot of fun.”
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