Jewish Atlantan Lindsay Resnick can now add “Jeopardy!” champion to her résumé.
But her amazing “Jeopardy!” moment almost never happened. Resnick auditioned for the show nearly three years before and was told she would stay in the contestant pool only 18 months.
Out of the blue while observing Yom Kippur with her family, Resnick got a strange phone call.
“Well, it was just the most shocking thing,” she said. “We were all sitting outside, and everybody was chatting, and I felt my phone ring. I looked, and it was a number from Culver City, Calif. Then I listened to the voicemail, and it was a producer from ‘Jeopardy!’ asking me if I wanted to be on the show.”
Resnick, a 2009 graduate of Centennial High School, hadn’t kept her “Jeopardy!” skills sharp, so she watched more than 100 episodes to prepare for the October taping in Los Angeles, where she took her parents and her maternal grandparents.
At each “Jeopardy!” taping, two contestants are held over until the next day to face the previous day’s winner. Resnick had to wait until the second day but said the delay helped calm her nerves.
“That whole first day I was watching everyone on the show, and all of us in the audience were playing along,” she said. “It was just such an exciting feeling to see people play, and it was just so nice getting to know everyone and meeting all of these people with similar interests as me with a love of learning and trivia and knowledge. All of my nerves had dissipated by the time I stepped up onstage for that game.”
On her first show, Resnick earned a warm response from host Alex Trebek during the contestant interview segment. She was born on her mother’s birthday, and, as she told Trebek, her mother says it was the nicest birthday present she ever got.
Resnick, who majored in history, technology and society at Georgia Tech, used her expertise to get the correct Final Jeopardy response in the category “First Century A.D.”: “Letters written by this Roman recount the events of a natural disaster, like the death of his uncle, a famous scholar.”
Resnick answered late but accurately: Pliny. (Technically Pliny the Younger, but the “Jeopardy!” judges accepted just Pliny from Resnick and another contestant.)
That response added $3,001 to Resnick’s score for a total of $10,001, more than enough after Brooks lost $4,401 from his $9,600 total with the incorrect answer of Socrates.
“I remember when I won at the end of my first game, I looked over at my family in the audience and they were all crying,” Resnick said. “That’s an image I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
She didn’t fare as well on her second appearance Jan. 10. She finished third after losing all but $1 on a difficult Final Jeopardy question that asked the three contestants to figure out which two current senators, one from Virginia and one from Massachusetts, have names that are anagrams of each other. No one got the correct response: “Who are (Elizabeth) Warren and (Mark) Warner?”
“Both of the Final Jeopardy questions that I dealt with seemed to be a little bit harder than what I had seen on other shows,” Resnick said. “But I find it really hard to judge which questions are harder or easier because everybody has different levels of knowledge in different things.”
Overall, Resnick got 24 responses correct and seven wrong and was 0 for 2 on Daily Doubles. She won $11,001.
She can never compete on the show again, but she joined a Facebook group for past “Jeopardy!” contestants and said she plans to meet up with some of her competitors.
“A lot of ‘Jeopardy!’ is just the luck of the draw,” she said. “It was luck combined with skill, which is I guess how you win any game.”