Westside resident Reshima Wilkinson lived the dream of game show enthusiasts across the world this week when she finished second on an episode of Jeopardy that aired Tuesday evening.
Wilkinson, who is a researcher at PWC, said in an interview this week she has been a longtime viewer of the popular game show so, of course, she was excited to meet Alex Trebek and the crew on set.
“I went to school to be a librarian so I’m very into reading and trivia and all sorts of useless information,” Wilkinson said, laughing as she remembered how she came to be a runner-up on a show that millions dream of competing on one day. “I hadn’t really always wanted to be on the show but I was always that person who would say, ‘I knew that.’ And my husband is also a fan so we watch it together and compete with each other, going back and forth to see who really knows everything.”
So when she took the online test, Wilkinson said she decided to try her hand at the 100-question timed test. And she’s thankful she did because Wilkinson was contacted by show organizers in March, just before COVID would begin to force the shutdown of television production sets and other sectors of business.
“We did two written tests and then we did a little bit of mock on-camera work where you get to use the buzzer and everything,” Wilkinson said, mentioning how she was added to the show’s contestant pool shortly after her visit to the studio. “And then, of course, everything shut down for some time due to COVID.”
Once the show received permission to start up again for the next season, Wilkinson said she received a call to come in again. “It was really exciting. It was like a dream come true,” she added, but preparation would be key if the Venice local hoped to make a run for the top spot in Tuesday’s episode.
Since contestants receive no word on what categories will be presented to them when they go to compete, Wilkinson said she studied the same way she would for a test — and simply hoped geography questions wouldn’t make too heavy of an appearance on the board.
“Because of COVID, we actually had to go in a week before for COVID testing,” and there were a number of precautions taken to protect the show’s longtime host, according to Wilkinson.
“We were pretty distant from him but he was very nice. We got to take a picture with him; that was really great, and everyone who works on the show was also very nice,” Wilkinson said, noting another highlight was talking to the other contestants. “Because it’s not often you get to be in a room with people where we all kind of like similar things and random facts. So it was really fun meeting other Jeopardy nerds.”
Per tradition, every contestant has the chance to share a little about themselves in between rounds, and Wilkinson had the opportunity to talk about her and her daughter’s love for K-Pop music, which piqued the interest of Trebek.
“I thought it was funny because the only thing she didn’t want me to talk about was her,” Wilkinson said, but her family’s musical experiences would pay off in the game during the music festival category, which she almost swept through herself during Tuesday’s game. There was one category called Westward Ho that gave Wilkinson plenty of trouble, but she still found herself in the running for second place when Final Jeopardy came around.
“I was in third place going into Final Jeopardy and it was a really hard question,” Wilkinson said. “I kind of went back and forth in my head between India and Thailand the whole time that final music was playing. I was like, ‘India, Thailand, India,’ but right before the end, I went to write T-H and time ran out.”
Wilkinson was strategic though and chose not to bet all of the money she had earned so she would eventually take second. “And I am proud of myself that I knew the final answer,” she said, sharing she enjoyed the experience and her finishing position.
“I definitely would do it again,” and others who want to compete one day should watch as many shows as they possibly can,” Wilkinson said.
“Because a lot of times, you may not think that you know the answer but you do… The buzzers are something you can’t prepare for; the timing of it is something you just get or you can’t. And that’s what I struggled with.”
The contestant said she also struggled with online comments about how stiff she looked on-screen but she chalked it up to nerves.
“I was pretty calm, you know, but I was also really excited… The lights come on, and you feel the cameras on you, and then Alex is there and you realize, ‘Oh my God, I’m on Jeopardy.” So, all these things are going on in my head and I was trying not to show it, but it was really exciting,” Wilkinson said “ And I’m really happy to be a local representative and I hope I did Venice proud.”