By Christine Zhu
Hyattsville resident Sarah Reza won $12,801 on her first “Jeopardy!” appearance June 16, 2021.
An avid “Jeopardy!” fan, Reza has been watching the show for as long as she can remember.
“My husband says that when we first met, I told him my dream was to be on ‘Jeopardy!,’” she said.
In order to appear on the show, prospective contestants must take an online test. Reza had been taking it every year for the last seven or eight years, she said. Prior to the pandemic, the test was offered only once per year. However, during the Covid-19 shut downs it became available to take anytime. Reza took the test again and this time, she passed.
About 200,000 people take the online test every year, with about 1000 people passing and about 100 people competing on the show, Reza estimated.
“Just being there was incredible, and then to actually win was even more,” Reza said. “In my head I kept thinking, just getting on that stage is winning.”
Reza, a program manager at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., said she’s always been a fan of trivia. Once she found out she was going to be on the show, she began preparing by binging “Jeopardy!” episodes to familiarize herself with the clues and how the writers think.
She made flashcards and would go over them while spending time with her infant son. She also purchased a children’s encyclopedia, to review basic information from different topics.
“On ‘Jeopardy!,’ it pays to know a little about a lot,” Reza said. “You don’t really need deep knowledge, you just need surface information, but a lot of different categories.”
On the show, she correctly provided the question to this answer in the Movie Characters category:
“A character who was going to be called Lunar Larry became him, inspired by the name of a real person.”
The question: “Who is Buzz Lightyear?”
As a result, she became a “Jeopardy!” winner.
Reza and her family have been planning to spend the prize money on a trip for her birthday this October.
“We love to travel; that’s something my husband and I did before we had kids and something we did when our daughter was little before the pandemic,” she said. “We’re itching to travel again.”
As of now, the itinerary is Spain, Portugal and Morocco, although Reza is aware that the delta variant may cancel her plans.
For those who want to compete on “Jeopardy!,” Reza encourages taking the online test.
“Don’t say, ‘oh, that could never be me,’ because it can be. You can definitely do it,” she said.