A newspaper reporter from Chicago, Illinois...

Kara Spak

Hi! I'm Kara Spak, a newspaper reporter from Chicago. Watch Jeopardy! to see if I get my facts straight.

[2010-09-23 Winner's Circle interview]
How does it feel to be the new Jeopardy! champion?
Oh, it's really exciting. This is something that I've dreamed about, just being on the show, since I was a little kid, and I came on, and I thought that that would be my dream coming true, and I can't believe I actually won. So I'd like to thank the writers of the NO. 1 "LOVE" SONGS category.

How did it feel to play Jeopardy!?
You know, it was--it was very fun. I, um, just tried to take a deep breath and not worry too much about the buzzer. Uh, I think going in, I, uh, y'know, I was thinking about that a lot, but, uh, it seemed to work out well enough in the game, and, um... Yeah, it was just really exciting. It was--it was--eh--even more fun than I thought it would be.

Was there a turning point for you?
I actually was shocked coming out of the first round that I was in the lead, and that was the point where I thought, um, if NO. 2 LOVE SONGS comes up in Double Jeopardy!, I might stand a chance.

[2010-09-24 Winner's Circle interview]
How does it feel to win your second game?
Hi, I'm Kara Spak, 2-time Jeopardy! champion, thanks in part to a lucky guess and double-checking my math on my Final Jeopardy! wager.

Do you have any goals as a Jeopardy! champion?
You know, my expectations were really just to be on the show. I have a list of things I'd like to do on my life--in my life--and one of them was to be on Jeopardy!, and I joked to husband that I should've put down to actually win on Jeopardy!, but I really didn't have any expectations that I would win. I kinda came in just looking forward to doing the show and having the experience, so, um, I would say it definitely hasn't set in, and can't wait to come back, and I'm really happy to be playing another game.

How did you prepare for your appearance on Jeopardy!?
I don't know that I'm going to do that much more prep for the return. I definitely did some studying on some weak categories going in. Um, U.S. Presidents was a big one. I have a pack of flashcards that I bought for the presidents, so that definitely helped today. Um, but, I think at this point I'm not really sure how much more knowledge I can accrue, uh, over the weekend, so... just gonna go in and just keep enjoying playing the game, and see how it works out.

[2010-09-27 Winner's Circle interview]
How does it feel to win your third game?
It feels great to be a three-time Jeopardy! champion. Uh, someone I would like to specifically thank on this one is my coworker Stefano Esposito. He is from, uh, Great Britain, and I wouldn't say that monarchs are my, uh, strong suit, and he has been drilling into me 1066 and William the Conqueror, so that was that, um, Daily Double--and the only thing, I wish I had bet a little bit more money, but in the end, it all worked out! So, thanks Stefano!

Do you have any advice for future Jeopardy! contestants?
Nah, I mean, I think--I think, just, in general, if you--if you even have an inkling that you want to do it, you should just go ahead and take the test, because even the whole process of getting on the show, um, has been really exciting and really interesting, and I think everybody's who's a fan of the show would just, have, like to have the experience, I think, of taking the test, and um... I mean, I definitely never in a million years thought I would get this far, but, uh, I'm riding this ship as long as it sails, so that might be one more game, or, who knows? So, um, yeah, this has been a great experience so far, so thanks to everybody here.

How did you prepare for your appearance on Jeopardy!?
No, I had big plans over the weekend to do all this reading on things that I needed a refresher on, and, um, being in California last week, and then working a couple of days when I got back, and, um, then I spent the weekend running around, so I-I did nothing really differently. It's--and I didn't really sleep, so, I, um, [laughs] I, uh, yeah... [laughs]

[2010-09-28 Winner's Circle interview]
How does it feel to win your fourth game?
[Strikes a Mary Katherine Gallagher pose] Superstar! Hi, I'm Kara Spak. I just won my fourth game on Jeopardy! It was pretty unbelievable. And, um, it was an exciting game. I would like to thank, this time, all my friends, uh, who have spent, since I was sixteen--so it's almost twenty years--driving around with me, listening to me sing song lyrics. I almost, um, swept a category of Alex, uh, reciting song lyrics, so, at that, was, um, that was kind of like my dream category. And, uh, so, thanks to all my friends for listening to me sing in the car! My family, too.

Tell us about your connection with Rob [sic] Blagojevich.
Oh, okay, so there's been two clues in the--the third game and the fourth game that, um, I've been following this Rod Blagojevich cover--er, trial. Um, I did some of the stories on it when he was arrested, and, so Rudyard Kipling, um, clue that I missed, and I went to a press conference once where he recited a poem, and then there was a Jesse Jackson, Jr. clue that, um, one of my competitors missed on this one, and he actually ended up being somewhat of a minor player in the trial, so, um, I think I'm going to think about Rod Blagovich today, and, uh, maybe while I'm here taping this, they're coming back on a jury... verdict... [Maggie Speak, off-camera: Maybe there's a hair category coming up.] What? [Maggie: Maybe there's a hair category coming up.] Oh, yeah, maybe there's a hair category coming up, so...

Do you have any goals as a Jeopardy! champion?
Now I'm a four-time champion, I mean, my expectation, I hate to say this, but, is that I'm eventually going to lose. [Laughs] So, I definitely have, um, really surprised myself by making it this far, but I-I, y'know, I don't want to tip my hat [sic] to my strategies, but I definitely, um, starting with the first game, kind of figured out a system that seems to be working pretty well for me, so, um... Y'know, I'm just going to keep doing that, and, um, we'll see--y'know, in, if those song lyric categories keep coming, that'll be great, if some of the other ones that I've got, um, are on there, then, y'know, it's really anybody's game. It's always anybody's game, so...

[2010-09-29 Winner's Circle interview]
How does it feel to win your fifth game?
Oh, you know what, I feel great. We, actually, um, my mom's cousin's husband was the big Jeopardy! winner in the family and I think about twenty years ago, he was on for four games, and he lost the Final Jeopardy! in the fifth game, which I also did, but fortunately, I had enough, and--that I was able to go on, on this one. So, um, it's great to be able to continue. I can't wait to play some more Jeopardy!, and, uh, maybe we'll pick up a Wii and the Jeopardy! Wii game with my winnings so I can play Jeopardy! at home when this whole dream experience finally ends.

Any plans for your winnings?
Yeah, I know I have no idea what I'm gonna do with the money. I'm gonna pay--write a check to the IRS, and put it away, I think, and figure out what do it with it. I don't know, I might upgrade the appliances--so boring! I'm sure we'll go on a trip--we love to travel. So, um... We went to Australia and New Zealand for our honeymoon, so maybe this'll be a good excuse to, uh, take another trip back there.

Any messages to the folks back home?
Yeah, okay, I definitely would like to thank my bosses Don, Andrew and Seamus, and everybody else that works on the City Desk of the Chicago Sun-Times. Um, they've been 100%--like, 1000% supportive of this. And they've also been really supportive, I feel like, of my career as a reporter, and, uh, they're a big part of the reason that I ended up being successful there, and, I think, um, it's also part of the reason I'm having some success here. I think a lot of the skills I use reporting are similar to Jeopardy!: you have to make snap decisions, um, it's really fast work, uh--there--there's no buzzer back in the news room.

2011 Tournament of Champions wildcard semifinalist: $10,000.
Season 27 5-time champion: $83,401 + $2,000.

Kara wrote about her Jeopardy! experience for her paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, here.

Kara appeared in the following 6 archived games:
#5989, aired 2010-09-30 Kara Spak vs. Tegan Brown vs. Mark McDonnell Kara Spak game 6. (Oprah Winfrey: Clues about The Oprah...
#5988, aired 2010-09-29 Kara Spak vs. Claire Bea vs. Molly Zeigler Kara Spak game 5.
#5987, aired 2010-09-28 Kara Spak vs. David Zack vs. Phyllis Grayson Kara Spak game 4.
#5986, aired 2010-09-27 Kara Spak vs. Beth Eckerd vs. Robert Villarreal Kara Spak game 3.
#5985, aired 2010-09-24 Kara Spak vs. Hillary Janikula vs. Lyssette Flinchbaugh Kara Spak game 2.
#5984, aired 2010-09-23 Russ Porter vs. DJ Schepker vs. Kara Spak Kara Spak game 1.
Kara would later appear on Jeopardy! as Kara Spak in the following 2 archived games:
#6244, aired 2011-11-10 Buddy Wright vs. Jay Rhee vs. Kara Spak 2011 Tournament of Champions semifinal game 2.
#6239, aired 2011-11-03 Roger Craig vs. Brian Meacham vs. Kara Spak 2011 Tournament of Champions quarterfinal game 2.

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