‘A really great experience’: Berkeley resident appears on ‘Jeopardy!’

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For Megan Wachspress, the thrill of competition and demonstrating her long-standing love of all things trivia highlighted her six-episode “Jeopardy!” appearance.

A staff attorney at the Beyond Coal Campaign with the Sierra Club and former UC Berkeley doctoral student currently living in Berkeley, Wachspress said she has been a trivia fan for much of her life. She recalled the days of dragging her landline telephone to the small television in her kitchen to compete against her friend over the phone as they watched “Jeopardy!” every evening.

“My husband was doing the Anytime Test and said ‘you’re really into trivia why don’t you do it!’ ” Wachspress said.

She took the Jeopardy! Anytime Test to gauge her abilities during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wachspress then proceeded through supervised tests and interviews, eventually joining the candidate pool.

“I knew I was in the candidate pool,” Wachspress said. “I had largely forgotten about it until I got a call and a voicemail that said ‘Hey! We’d like you to come out and film!’ ”

Despite the fact that they had filmed the episodes without a live audience, Wachspress said it was not easy to forget that she was on television. Wearing makeup and pressed outfits with cameras all around her made it difficult for Wachspress to forget where she was.

However, despite common nerves associated with being broadcasted on television, Wachspress noted that the warmth and enthusiasm of the show could be felt around the set.

“The producers do a great job of keeping the atmosphere warm and full of enthusiasm and setting a tone of real camaraderie among the contestants,” Wachspress said. “It was a really great experience.”

Wachspress embarked on a six-episode streak that she described as “unusual.” After defeating the previous champion, luck and strategy was on Wachspress’ side as she only had one runaway match where all signs pointed toward her winning the final “Jeopardy!” round.

In the midst of wagering, strategy and cognitive gears working against the clock, Wachspress found herself surprised and delighted at moving forward in the rounds.

“I was surprised at what was happening,” Wachspress said. “I was like ‘Oh, cool! I get to play again!’ ”

However, Wachspress acknowledged a controversial call that ruled out another contestant. Wachspress remarked how hard it is to lose after coming so close, expressing her sympathy to the other contestants and viewers.

Despite the highs and lows of her winning streak, Wachspress was motivated by competitiveness and sheer joy of knowledge. According to a “Jeopardy!” press release, she will appear on the show again to compete in “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions” this November.

“I am most excited about meeting who I like to call the ‘true super-streakers,’ ” Wachspress said. “I get to see all those awesome people.”

Contact Maya Banuelos at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @mayambanuelos.