University of Alabama Alumna Appears on Jeopardy! Days After Historic Winner
A University of Alabama alumna played admirably but ultimately lost when she appeared on an episode of beloved TV game show Jeopardy! last week.
Kirsten Greenwell, who graduated from UA in 2012 with a degree in English and Art History, told the Tuscaloosa Thread that she took the Jeopardy! Anytime Test on a whim during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and was surprised when she was invited to take a second round of testing months later.
"At some point, I got a call early in 2021 to advance to the second round, and then in June for the third round and in October, I got the call that I was going to be on the show," Greenwell said. "We filmed on November 9th."
Because of COVID protocols in place on set, Greenwell said the game show records a full week of episodes at one time, and instead of a true studio audience, the show is spectated by the other contestants whose episodes are being filmed that day.
For Greenwell, that meant sharing space and spending time with Amy Schneider, whose historic 40-consecutive-game winning streak ended last Wednesday, two days before Greenwell's episode aired.
"I showed up and was just chatting with this very nice woman, just talking and getting to know each other when somebody else came over and said 'Hey, ask Amy how many games she's won, she's the returning champion,'" Greenwell recalled. "She said, 'Oh, 38!' and I thought 'Are you kidding me?'"
Schneider was dethroned Wednesday, though, and Greenwell faced off against California's Jay Foster and Thursday's winner Carrie Cadwallader. She went a respectable 14-and-4 on questions she answered and at the end of the second round, Greenwell had accumulated $6,800 -- exactly half the total earned by Foster, which led her to bet it all in an attempt to tie the leader.
Unfortunately for Greenwell, the category of the final Jeopardy was 1970s Singer-Songerwiters, putting her at a generational disadvantage to the older Foster and Cadwallader.
The clue provided was "while speaking to Congress in 1985, he explained that his 1973 hit, now a state song, wasn’t about drugs."
Greenwell said she was stumped and tried to guess Willie Nelson, but blanked on his name and ended up writing Woody Guthrie. The answer, ultimately, was John Denver and his hit song Rocky Mountain High.
Greenwell's miss cost her the entire $6,800 she wagered, and Foster won the day with $13,600 -- he correctly answered the Final Jeopardy but wagered nothing on his answer to protect his lead.
The Alabama alumna said she is a lifelong fan of the show and was, at times, overwhelmed by the pace of participating in it herself, but said in the end, she was calm and ready to compete.
"The producers did a great job of making everyone feel prepared, getting in a lot of practice and stuff like that, so by the time we stepped on stage to film my episode, I just felt comfortable and ready to go," Greenwell said. "That's a big testament to the Jeopardy! team."
With her Jeopardy! appearance behind her, Greenwell is back in her home of Washington D.C. with her husband, Jimmy, and their foster pets.