Growing up, Scott Richard Lord watched “Jeopardy!” over the summer or when he was sick and out of school. He regularly played Trivial Pursuit with his brothers, who made him win the knowledge-based board game twice to be considered the champion.
Throughout his adult life, the Santa Monica resident heard a common refrain: “You ought to go on ‘Jeopardy.'”
“It’s basically the only place in the world where trivia can actually make you money,” Lord said.
And now he has the experience to prove it.
A semi-retired attorney whose brain features troves of facts about history, language, literature and opera, among other subjects, Lord won five games and more than $109,000 on the long-running TV quiz show hosted by Alex Trebek. His six-game stint on the program finished airing Monday night.
“It was a pretty good run,” Lord said. “Everybody eventually loses, and it sucks to lose, but it’s so exciting. It’s fun to win money, of course. But the fact that you could stand there and have this knowledge be useful was unbelievable. I can’t believe it’s over.”
Lord, 60, plans to put his winnings towards an African safari next month with his wife and their 12-year-old twin boys.
Raised in the San Fernando Valley, Lord attended UC Santa Cruz, graduated from law school at Santa Clara University in 1979 and spent more than three decades doing criminal and civil trial work for clients in the construction industry. He still practices on a semi-retired basis.
Since 1993 he’s lived in Santa Monica, which he discovered on regular beach trips during his childhood. (In one of his on-camera interviews with Trebek, Lord revealed that his current Santa Monica property was previously home to actresses Bette Davis and Greta Garbo.)
“I went away to school and worked in the Bay Area, but I said, ‘If I ever come back to L.A., I’m living somewhere near the beach,” Lord said. “(Santa Monica) isn’t such a little city anymore, but it’s still one you can walk around. … It’s one of the best places in the world to live.”
About four years ago, after decades of watching “Jeopardy,” Lord applied to be a contestant.
He took an online test and got asked to an audition, and he was told that he might get a call in the next year and a half. Months went by without any word from the show.
“For some reason they emailed me to take the online test again,” he said, and eventually he returned for another in-person audition. Shortly after that he was invited to be a contestant.
But there was a catch: Since he lives in Southern California, where the show is taped, he was scheduled as an alternate in case an out-of-town contestant couldn’t make it to the studio.
“It’s a little frustrating,” he said. “You sit there all day and you watch everybody else. They tape five shows a day, and I didn’t get on. But they said, ‘We’ll call you again and you’ll get on next time.'”
That was December. In February, he called to check in. Still no word. Then, in the last week of April, he was asked back to the studio.
“You’re nervous, and you don’t want to embarrass yourself,” he said. “That’s the main thing.”