The J!Effect Alumni Stories

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J!Alumni: Decades of the J!Effect

Career changes, charitable donations, school tuitions and new homes: These are just a few ways Jeopardy! has changed contestants' lives. Read updates from your favorites below.

Pictured: Maryanne and Michael

Andy Vogl
Season 22

I was a Kids Week contestant back in 2005.

Andy Vogl

Season 22

You Haven't Seen the Last of Me

I was a Kids Week contestant back in 2005. Despite having the second highest score for the week, I came up $2 short after Final Jeopardy! so I can't say the show changed my life financially. However, my experience competing on Jeopardy! developed into a lifelong passion that has been the driving force behind some of my other pursuits. From application to audition to appearance, Jeopardy! caused me to catch the game show "bug." Immediately after the cameras stopped rolling, I was hungry for a chance to compete again on a national stage. As soon as I turned 18 I began auditioning for any and every game show I could find. Naturally, I've faced my fair share of rejection (and some success) over the years, but my hobby has taught me that life is just as much about the journey as it is the destination. I truly love auditioning, and I've have met tons of amazing people who share my insanity and ambition. Because of Jeopardy! I've grown up believing that no dream is out of reach!

Peter Severson
Season 21

When I was 17, I participated in the 2005 Teen Tournament.

Peter Severson

Season 21

Biblical Names

When I was 17, I participated in the 2005 Teen Tournament. After winning my first round game, I went to the semi-finals and had a spirited match with Michael (who ended up winning the whole tournament). The Final Jeopardy! category was "Biblical Names," with a clue about an Old Testament figure who had been "drawn from the water." I guessed Noah when I should've guessed Moses - no worries, I thought, since Michael would've beaten me by $1 if I'd gotten it right anyway. But when the show aired, my whole community back home was shocked: "You grew up in the church, how could you not know Moses?!" I went on to earn a religion degree at Princeton, served as a missionary in Mexico, and got a master's in religious ethics. I'm now the director of a faith-based public policy office in Colorado. All that in the wake of one missed clue about Biblical names. Some of my friends still randomly text me the word "Moses" for no reason. Nobody remembers all the clues you got right...

John Morgan
Season 29

I was working as an elementary art teacher when I realized my dream of appearing on Jeopardy!

John Morgan

Season 29

From Trivia Geek to Cheese Freak

I was working as an elementary art teacher when I realized my dream of appearing on Jeopardy! in 2013. When I got on, I didn't win enough to get into any real trouble, but I did secure enough to get a beautiful 30-quart Hobart mixer. You see, I'd always thought it'd be fun to try to take my "famous-within-the-family" pimento Cheese to market. So that's what I did. In early 2014, my then girlfriend, now wife/babymama started Queen Charlotte's Pimento Cheese Royale in a small booth inside of Uptown Charlotte's 7th Street Public Market. In the nearly 5 years since, I've gone full-time, we have 8 employees, and we make a couple hundred tons a year of a product that is sold up and down the east coast and as far west as Texas. We've appeared in publications as varied as the Boston Globe and Southern Living, and absolutely NOBODY misses a chance to tell their audience how I got my "seed money". Not a day goes by that I don't thank y'all for allowing me to pursue this madcap adventure.

Tom Bodenberg
Season 7
When I was in the tryout stage (way back in December 1990, at Merv Griffin's Resorts, Atlantic City), I mentioned that if I were to win "big money" (no, I'm not channeling Wheel of Fortune here), it would go toward the education of my son, who was in utero at the time.

Tom Bodenberg

Season 7

Winnings for my son

When I was in the tryout stage (way back in December 1990, at Merv Griffin's Resorts, Atlantic City), I mentioned that if I were to win "big money" (no, I'm not channeling Wheel of Fortune here), it would go toward the education of my son, who was in utero at the time. He's now 27. We are pictured at the Blue Hill Fair in Maine.

A bonus of my taping is that I felt I was in the contestant room with 14 of my best friends. It would be naive to admit that none of us didn't want to win, but I felt as happy for their success (or their hard effort) as I felt for my own!

 

Sheryl Stein
Season 9
I was a three-time Jeopardy! champion in 1992. I won a grand total of $11,599. Yes, that whopping, pretax amount.

Sheryl Stein

Season 9

Three-time winner (but not of Final Jeopardy!)

I was a three-time Jeopardy! champion in 1992. I won a grand total of $11,599. Yes, that whopping, pretax amount. Besides the fact that the amounts on the board were smaller back then, I also ended up having low Jeopardy! earnings because I blew each and every Final Jeopardy! question. Yep, the only reason I won was because I bet better than the others, who blew the final question as well.

Skyler Hornback
Season 29
After my episode aired in July 2013, it was incredible how supportive the residents of my hometown were of my success.

Skyler Hornback

Season 29

That Boy that was on Jeopardy!

After my episode aired in July 2013, it was incredible how supportive the residents of my hometown were of my success. I was invited to appear on local radio stations and television segments, and people would come up to me in public places and ask, "Were you the kid that was on Jeopardy!?" It was strange at first. I mean, I even had one person pick me up off my feet outside a restaurant in Louisville once. However, my appearance on the show did open a lot of doors, as I was able to buy my first vehicle when I turned 16 and to travel abroad to Greece and Italy during my junior and senior years of high school. I am currently pursuing a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Kentucky. I still get recognized from time to time, even five years later, and I guess I'll always be known as that boy who was on Jeopardy!

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