Alma native competes on 'Jeopardy'
Alma native Lance St. Laurent is still smiling about his "Jeopardy" win last week.
He appeared on the popular trivia game show Feb. 12 and Feb. 15, winning his first game but losing the following episode. St. Laurent walked away with over $20,000.
Currently a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, St. Laurent helps teach a course on comedy films.
His connections to Alma are still strong. His family moved to Alma when he was 12 and they still live there.
"It's definitely where I consider my home," St. Laurent said. "My roots are still firmly there."
When he was a student at Alma High School, St. Laurent joined the quiz bowl team and eventually became the captain and state MVP. He says that he has always been good a trivia.
When he was an undergrad at Hendrix College in Conway, St. Laurent took his first test to be a contestant on the "Jeopardy" college tournament. Unfortunately, he didn't get accepted.
"Since then, I've taken the test most years," said St. Laurent. "But this year was a good test. I got a callback for a second audition."
St. Laurent took the first test in February of 2020 and had his audition in October of last year. Over a Zoom call, St. Laurent was subjected to a second test, an interview, and a mock game of jeopardy to test his knowledge of the game itself.
A month later, he got the call that he was going to be on "Jeopardy." This call was about a week after Alex Trebek, former host of "Jeopardy," passed away from pancreatic cancer.
"It was surprising because I didn't know if the show was going to continue, or what form it would continue in," said St. Laurent.
In December, St. Laurent made his way to California to film his episodes of "Jeopardy." Former 74-day "Jeopardy" champion Ken Jennings was the guest host.
Jeopardy films in two-day stretches. In those two days, they film a week's worth of shows. St. Laurent says he was there on the first day waiting for his turn to play.
When he was told it was his turn, he was the last show of the day. He was up against the four-day champion, John Focht. This left St. Laurent a bit intimidated, he said.
The intimidation didn't last long when St. Laurent, a graduate student in film studies, noticed that one of the categories was "The best actors Oscars."
"I lit up with dollar signs," St. Laurent said.
He says that when a category about greek philosophers came up he knew he wouldn't do well. Luckily, for him, no one else knew much about greek philosophers either.
St. Laurent was able to get the win for the day with $19,600. When the next day came he was up for the first show with new contestants.
"First round, I got a big lead and my confidence went way up," said St. Laurent.
He went into the double jeopardy round with a small lead but was stumped with questions pertaining to specific hospitals, sports, and a category about mean tweeters. Initially, he was excited about this category as he thought it pertained to the website Twitter, but to his dismay, it was about birds.
"I didn't lose too much money, and I was still ahead, but things felt a bit shakier," said St. Laurent.
Eventually, another contestant, Phil Hoffman gained the lead and became the champion that day.
St. Laurent says he is glad he had the chance to compete on "Jeopardy" and he had a lot of support from friends, family, and strangers online. The episodes aired on Feb. 12 and Feb. 15.