Emmie Trammell of Spherion Jacksonville fulfills a lifelong dream of competing on Jeopardy!
You know the satisfying feeling of checking off an item on your bucket list? Emmie Trammell, an employee relations specialist with Spherion Jacksonville, Florida, got to experience that feeling when she fulfilled a lifelong dream of competing on the game show Jeopardy! in May.
“I was nervous, but it was really fun, and quite literally a dream come true,” Emmie said.
After taking the show’s online test and auditioning, she spent a week in Los Angeles filming and sightseeing. Ken Jennings was the host while she played. (Jennings and Mayim Bialik rotate hosting duties.)
“Ken didn’t say a whole lot outside of the games, but he was so nice and a lot funnier than I thought he’d be!” she recalled.
Aspiring Jeopardy! contestants go through a rigorous process of testing, auditioning, and waiting for their turn under the bright lights of the studio. They must first take an online quiz that tests their knowledge in many subjects so the show’s producers can be sure they’d be a worthy competitor. Qualified applicants are invited to audition so the show’s team can see how they’d perform and interact with others on camera. Pre-pandemic, those auditions happened in person in various locations around the US. But now, Jeopardy! auditions are held over Zoom with 15 to 20 people who play a few practice games before taking another general knowledge test. Those who are selected to appear on the show travel to Los Angeles to tape their episodes.
“Trying to appear on Jeopardy! is a waiting game,” Emmie said. “If you score high enough on the online test, you’re randomly selected to audition, but you might not receive that invitation for up to a year. Then, once you audition, the producers can call you any time within the next 18 months to invite you on the show.
“You can take the online test once per year. I’ve taken the online test six times and auditioned once before when I was 17 for [Jeopardy’s] Teen Tournament. This time, I took the online test in January 2021 and received an invitation to audition online in June. But it wasn’t until April 2022 that they called me to say they might ask me to be on the show,” she explained.
Because Jeopardy! records 5 shows per day on days they film, Emmie spent almost 12 hours in the studio on the day she played. Contestants play a few practice games first so they can learn how to use the buzzer and get comfortable on stage. They didn’t have a live studio audience, so when contestants weren’t actively participating in a real game, they sat in the audience to watch, clap, and enjoy the experience.
Emmie’s family traveled to Los Angeles with her for support. When Emmie was finished filming, they spent time at the beach and eating out at fun LA restaurants.
“Working at Spherion helped prepare me to be on Jeopardy! by training my brain to juggle lots of information at once,” Emmie said. “I’ve had practice maintaining poise in a fast-moving environment thanks to Spherion Jacksonville, so being on stage and maintaining composure wasn’t as hard as it could have been.”
Although she cannot divulge which questions were part of her game, the answers, or how much she won until the episode airs, Emmie can say she won something: The winner advances to the next game with the amount they earn (and eventually takes home their cumulative score) while the runner-up takes home $2,000 and the third-place finisher banks $1,000. Emmie plans to use her winnings to pay off some of her student loans and to buy a wheelchair for her two-legged dog, Bunny.
Her favorite part of the experience? All of it! “I cannot pick out a favorite part,” she mused. “I’m still elated that I can say, ‘I’ve been on a game of Jeopardy!; I stood on the stage; I spoke to Ken Jennings!”
Emmie’s show airs Thursday, July 21. Check your local TV listings for the specific time and channel to watch. Emmie’s family has planned a big watch party at one of her favorite sports bars to watch her big moment. The episode will be available on YouTube after the initial air date.