University News

Freshman’s ‘Jeopardy!’ bid airs Wednesday

Contributing Writer
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rebecca Maxfield ’13 has always been a fan of “Jeopardy!,” but she never thought she would actually compete on the show. She finally got her chance in a show taped this winter and airing Wednesday night at 7:30.

Maxfield competed in “Jeopardy!”‘s latest college championship tournament, which included participants from many universities around the nation.

To get on the show, Maxfield said she first had to complete an online test. After scoring high enough, Maxfield advanced to an audition in Boston, where she had to complete another test. Soon after, she practiced how to play the game, and finally, last semester, was flown to the taping in California.

“I hadn’t been expecting it one way or another. I kind of forgot about it actually, but it was really exciting when I found out,” Maxfield said.

The college championship tournament, created in 1989, is part of “Jeopardy!”‘s new initiative to open their contestant search process to a wider range of people. “Since online testing began in 2006, more than half a million people have taken the test online, and helped expand “Jeopardy!”‘s contestant pool to include more women, minorities and students,” wrote Jeff Ritter, senior publicist of “Jeopardy!,” in an e-mail to The Herald.

The tournament included 15 students from universities including Penn, Yale, Columbia, the University of California at Los Angeles and other prestigious schools competing for a $100,000 cash prize.

Maxfield said her experience wasn’t intimidating at all because she had competed in Quizbowl in high school and still participates in Quizbowl at Brown.

“I’ve always been a huge nerd,” she said.

Bella Maxfield P’13, Rebecca’s mother, was present in the crowd while Rebecca played.

She said that Rebecca was always interested in trivia throughout middle school and high school. She added that Rebecca had experiences participating in trivia competitions such as aired Quizbowl challenges against other academic teams in high school and the New York state geography championship, in which she earned 11th place.

“She loves that stuff,” Bella said.

Maxfield said she didn’t study intensely for the competition.

“I’m always on, a trivia quiz site — which is what I’m on right now actually,” said Maxfield.

She said she has always been a fan of “Jeopardy!,” but she did not get to hang out with Alex Trebek.

“He’s strange off-camera. While they were filming for the commercial breaks, he would just talk to the audience,” she said.

Bella, who received the phone call before Rebecca did, informed her daughter that she was going to be on “Jeopardy!.”

“I thought it was incredible,” she said.

Bella said she was very excited to be in the audience.

“You’re at the edge of the seat the whole time because it’s not really like any one person dominates for the whole. It was lots of fun,” she said.

The tournament’s quarterfinals will air from February 1 to 5 at 7:30 pm on CBS WPRI-TV. Maxfield will be on the February 3 show at 7:30 p.m. The tournament will run until February 12 when a winner will be announced.