My Day At Jeopardy! It Was Long Ago, But Feels Like Yesterday.

Linda, Neil, and I battle it out on Jeopardy!

I went on a treasure hunt and struck gold! Or at least a second-place silver.

Frequent blog readers know of my past Jeopardy! experience as a contestant in 1988 and how my single videotape of the airing was eviscerated by a hungry VCR machine. I had thought my defeat was lost to future generations, but a few months ago I made another try to locate a copy.

A wonderful Jeopardy! resource exists at the J! Archive, a fan site with details of almost every Jeopardy! ever telecast, including players, answers, questions, a variety of statistics, and even a lexicon of Jeopardy! jargon. It was at this site that I began my search.

I was able to locate the episode I appeared in, #893, and noted the name of my two opponents, Neil L, an engineer from El Cerrito, California, and returning champion Linda M, a substitute teacher from Elizaville, New York.

I took my info and ran with it to Facebook, private messaging anyone I found who might possibly have been one of my opponents. I asked each contact if they could have been my Jeopardy! nemesis, and if they had a copy of our show.

Weeks went by with no return messages, and I had given up hope when last week I got a response from one of many Neil Ls I had contacted:

“Sorry for the delay, but I just saw the message. Yes, that was me. And that was you too. Strangely, yesterday I stumbled across a flash drive with recording of the game. We were young. Hope you are well.”

Success! We exchanged a few more messages, and by the end of the day Neil L of El Cerrito had come through with a WMV file of our episode. And transfixed, I watched my (much) younger self “perform.”

A few observations:

  • I made a poor choice of sportcoats
  • I never was much of a speller–no wonder I misspelled Dan “Akroyd.”
  • It was nice having a full head of hair.
  • Were Harry Caray size eyeglasses really in style?
  • The technology, with banks of CRT monitors, was light years behind what we witness on Jeopardy! now.
  • Eugene Finnerman, where are you now?
  • Alex was young, healthy, and helped me out when he pushed Linda M to overbid on a Daily Double she was sure to get wrong.
  • Despite the claims of my son, at no point did Alex say “Wrong again, Les.” However, he did appear amazed that I got Final Jeopardy correct–just after he had chastised me for “not making it a closer game.”

For those of you wondering, the final score had Neil at $12,100, while I rode my Final Jeopardy success to a grand total of $2,100. But it was $2,100 of fun. I am looking forward to sharing the whole experience with my family.

And to never again be taunted “Wrong again, Les.”


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