A creative writing and women's studies student originally from Portland, Oregon...

Amy Wilson

Hi Portland, I'm Amy Wilson from the Rose City. Watch me put petal to the metal on Jeopardy!

Season 26 1-time champion: $19,999 + $2,000.

Not to be confused with Season 3 Teen Tournament player Amy Wilson.

Amy Wilson - A Creative Writing and Women's Studies Student
Portland, Oregon

April 22, 2010

Most people who know me well know something I've been saying for years: it is my life's goal to be on Jeopardy! I watch Jeopardy! nearly every night. I've been Alex Trebek for Halloween. The Jeopardy! theme is my cell phone's ringtone. And I've been actively pursuing Jeopardy! for a few years, even though I expected to have to audition many times before making it on the show. That's why I said it was my life's goal, because I thought this would take my whole life and in the back of my mind I think I didn't believe it would ever happen at all. When I was 17 the Jeopardy! contestant online test overlapped with my spring break, which I spent with my parents in Kauai. There was no internet connection where we were staying so my dad tracked down a computer in the back of a travel agency that I could use to take it. Nothing ever came of that test, so I felt embarrassed about the whole affair, but here I am now at 22 writing about what it's like to be a Jeopardy! champion. So thanks, Dad!

I took the online contestant test in January of 2009 and was e-mailed about the in person audition a few months later. I go to school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but the audition was in Chicago, so I arranged to take a few days off and ride the train four hours each way. My best friend and housemate Jessie went with me for moral support. The test was held at a hotel in downtown Chicago, which was very big and shiny and I was tired from the train ride and sort of intimidated by the whole thing. Once I made it to the audition itself, though, I realized that my fellow auditioners were genuinely nice and interesting people and I relaxed a lot. One man had driven all the way from Austin, Texas to audition in Chicago - and I thought my four-hour train ride had been hard core! The audition went by much more quickly than I thought it would. I walked out glad to have met Robert and Glenn from Jeopardy! and all my fellow Jeopardy! enthusiasts. We'd been given super-nifty Jeopardy! click pens and told that we could hear back any time in the next eighteen months. I had fun at the audition but I honestly thought the only thing that would come of it was the super-nifty pen, which unfortunately broke at the bottom of my purse two days later.

Fast forwarding to January of 2010, I'm having a fairly normal Thursday night watching four inches of snow pile up when I see I have a missed call. I think I'll always remember exactly what the message said: "Hi Amy, this is Robert from Jeopardy! Give me a call back at. . ." I tiptoed over to my housemate Abe's door and said "Abe, I think I might have just gotten The Call from Jeopardy!. . ." and then I started jumping and dancing around in my fuzzy bathrobe.

Three weeks later I was in L.A. with my parents, who'd come down from Portland, Oregon, to watch me tape the show. Just as at the audition, I was really struck by how nice my fellow contestants were! We all got along very well and I felt as though just waiting around nervously in the green room really bonded us. I realized as I looked around at them that, no matter how much I would have liked to win on Jeopardy!, I would be happy seeing them win too. I believe that people who are as enthusiastic about Jeopardy! as we are tend to be kindred spirits who will naturally get along well. Although my entire experience at Jeopardy! was amazing, I'd have to say that meeting the other contestants was totally the best part.

The game itself really passed by in a blur. When I watch the show I expect to be surprised by the outcome! A lot of it I don't remember, other than answering "Joshua" for Moses' successor, which is notable because I probably wouldn't be able to recall that in an everyday situation but somehow being on the show brought it out. I'd heard the buzzer was the trickiest part and I found that to be true. Mastering the timing on the buzzer is, I think, the key to Jeopardy! when it comes down to it.

Ken and Rick were both very nice guys who showed off their wicked senses of humor in the green room before the show. I was nervous to play Ken as I thought he'd done very well in his previous game and was clearly a strong player. During the Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy! rounds, I sort of forgot to keep track of my score and was surprised to look up at the end of Double Jeopardy! and find I was in catching distance of Ken.

Before going on the show Final Jeopardy! betting had literally been the stuff of nightmares for me. I have never been strong doing arithmetic on the fly and there's a lot of strategy that goes into wagers. I tried to study up before heading to L.A. but was terrified of ending up in a situation where I had to make a tricky wager.

The silver lining of the situation at the end of Double Jeopardy! was that my strategy had to be crystal clear. I had to bet it all on a very general category - "National Museum of American History"? I mean, COME ON. That could have been absolutely anything! Although I'm not particularly religious, I remember clasping my hands during the "closed captioning" spot immediately before Final Jeopardy! and sending a quick thought to whoever may have been listening: Please, please, please let me know this one.

And I did. I was so fortunate to pull a pop culture question in Final Jeopardy!, as I am a huge pop culture junkie and that's always been my strongest area of trivia. What's more, it was Seinfield related, and my housemate Abe is quite the Seinfeld fan. I knew it instantly and wrote it down, thinking it was likely Ken would get it and I'd leave Jeopardy! with a second place finish, proud to have been there at all.

I'll always remember the moment Alex announced that I had won. We'd practiced our "I won!" faces in the green room before the show, but in that moment everything went out of my head and I sort of collapsed. By that point, I had already achieved my life's goal simply by being on the Jeopardy! stage, but now at the age of 22 I was a Jeopardy! champion.

Well, being a Jeopardy! champion and a dollar twenty-five will get you on the bus here in Ann Arbor, and I can't say my life has changed much. I plan on using my winnings to do some post-graduation travel and to ease my transition from college into the real world. As an aspiring writer, I know very well that $19,999 is by far and away the most money I'll ever take home in a day (or month. . .or year. . .), and I'm grateful for the cushion this money will provide for me. More important, though, I'm grateful for the people I met, my fellow contestants and the Jeopardy! crew. Over anything else they made the experience into an absolutely wonderful memory that I know I will treasure forever.

But it gets even better: I now am the proud owner of my second super-nifty Jeopardy! click pen, and I promise to take better care of this one. And my new life's goal? I haven't quite figured that out yet, but I'm thinking of trying for the Next Great American Novel.

Amy appeared in the following 2 archived games:
#5903, aired 2010-04-21 Amy Wilson vs. Phil Bucska vs. Patsy Chrysson
#5902, aired 2010-04-20 Ken Starnes vs. Amy Wilson vs. Rick Reed

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