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16 Fascinating Facts About What It’s Like To Be A Contestant On Jeopardy

Updated September 23, 2021 70.4k views16 items

Ever wonder what being on Jeopardy! is like? Of course you do; it’s America’s favorite quiz show for a reason! Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner watch it together every day, for Pete’s sake. How adorable is that? Or should we say, “What is how adorable is that?”

Being on Jeopardy! means that you’re the best of the best. The smartest of the smartest. The master of answers-in-the-form-of-a-question. Sadly, we can’t all make the cut. The truth of the matter is, most of us will never know what being a Jeopardy! contestant is like. But hey, that doesn't mean we can’t live vicariously through people who do!

How do you get on Jeopardy!? What secrets happen behind the scenes? Is Alex Trebek dreamy in person? These are the questions that need answering. Sure, what it's like to be on Jeopardy! may vary from contestant to contestant, but here’s the gist!

  • They Film A Whole Week’s Worth Of Episodes In One Day

    The first three episodes are filmed in the morning, followed by a lunch break. Then they bring in a whole new studio audience to watch the final two episodes. After every episode, Trebek and the returning champion have to change outfits so that the next episode looks like a brand new “day.”

    In other words, Alex Trebek pretty much always has five ties in his vicinity at all times.

  • You Have To Hug The Other Audition Contestants

    Photo: CBS

    At the beginning of every in-person Jeopardy! audition, show producers encourage hopeful contestants to participate in some ice-breaking and trust exercises. Among these exercises is the "hugging" ice breaker, in which you, potential Jeopardy! winner, must hug your competition.

    The idea is to get nervous folks to laugh and calm down before they start ruthlessly competing against one another for the chance to appear on TV. Sounds great!

  • It’s Pretty Cold In The Studio

    You know the old phrase, “Never let them see you sweat”? That won’t be a problem on Jeopardy!. They keep the temperature in the studio pretty cool to counterbalance the hot lights. That’s life on TV, baby! Now you’re only dripping with nervousness on the inside!

  • It's Hard To Come Up With A Funny Personal Anecdote Story

    Photo: CBS

    Ultimately, Trebek chooses what he’s going to ask you about, but you have to provide him with a well of options. Every contestant is given a three-page (single-spaced) questionnaire that they have to fill out. These “first date” questions range from “Brushes with greatness and secret ambitions?” to “What is the one mistake that no one will let you forget?” Many contestants draw a blank, realizing that their funny stories aren't TV friendly or TV interesting.

    Thankfully, the show’s contestant coordinators' entire job is to make you feel comfortable and help you find interesting tidbits to talk about. They’re the real MVPs!