A teacher assistant from Jacksonville, North Carolina...

Jenifer Thomas

Hey, Eastern North Carolina, this is Jenifer Thomas from Jacksonville. Come on in from the beach, put away those boogie boards and watch me on Jeopardy!

Season 26 1-time champion: $13,400 + $2,000.

Jenifer Thomas
October 5, 2009

Hi! My name is Jenifer Thomas, and I'm a teacher assistant from Jacksonville, NC. I am now in the first days of my final semester and teaching internship with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, for which I am truly excited! When not working with children or having fun with Jeopardy!, I enjoy singing, playing with my dogs, doing puzzles, and reading.

My Jeopardy! journey began with taking the online test in January; I have always wanted to compete on the show, so I thought that I might as well take the first step toward doing that. Two months later, I got the surprise of my life when I was invited to come to the Charlotte-area audition in May! It was great to have the day off from work; it was even better to spend it playing Jeopardy! with the others in that afternoon's session. Having the buzzer in my hand was a thrill, and I relished the chance to actually be able to buzz in to give responses to the clues we got. All my family and friends wanted to know the outcome of the audition, but all I could tell them was that I would find out eventually.

"Eventually" came in July, when I received the call to be a contestant on Jeopardy!! I was in pretty serious disbelief when I heard the voicemail on my phone from the show's staff, and I was more or less speechless as I returned the call after work that evening. I told my family first, then various friends and coworkers over the weeks that followed. During that time, I also made it a special point to catch Jeopardy! as many times as possible, watching the timing of my responses.

When the time came to tape the show, I was a little nervous, but very excited! I enjoyed meeting the other contestants, and having the opportunity to talk with them and get to know them a little better was really a great experience. Before taping the show, we played a rehearsal game, during which I was able to find my bearings with the buzzer. I was still a little nervous, but very ready to play Jeopardy!

I sat in the audience, anticipating my turn to play. As I walked onto the stage, I was determined that, no matter what, I was going to play the game the best I could and have fun doing it! Hearing Johnny Gilbert call my name and seeing Alex walk out were both very surreal moments, but once the categories flashed up on the board, it was time to get down to business. Both of my fellow contestants were very good competitors, so it was a very challenging game. Hitting two of the Daily Doubles (and getting one of them right!) was very helpful during gameplay, but I was still trailing the returning champion going into Final Jeopardy! The clue in the category Geographic Names asked about the current name of a place once called "Rupert's Land". I vaguely remember having heard that name before, and in putting together the pieces of the clue, I guessed that it might be referring to Canada, which I wrote as my response. It turned out to be the correct response, and to my great surprise, I was the only contestant to answer correctly! The most surreal moment of all was to be announced the new Jeopardy! champion at the end of the show!! It was unbelievable, and I stayed in shock all the way to the hotel room.

It's still so strange to think of myself as a Jeopardy! champion. As of this writing, the only family members who know are my mother and brother, who accompanied me to the taping, my stepdad, my grandma, and my dad, whom I credit with first getting me addicted to the show. All of them were so very excited when they heard the news, and they have been asking others to watch the episode on the day it airs, as have I. It has been an incredible experience, and I'll take it with me for the rest of my life.

Jenifer appeared in the following 2 archived games:
#5760, aired 2009-10-02 Jenifer Thomas vs. Josh Forsythe vs. Lynn Swanbom
#5759, aired 2009-10-01 Andy Srinivasan vs. Cheryl Williams vs. Jenifer Thomas Andy Srinivasan game 5.

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