The J!Effect Alumni Stories
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
Finishing My Degree
My Jeopardy! winnings came at an opportune moment for finishing my PhD, as I had run out of funding and needed more time. One of my professors joked that I won the Trebek Dissertation Completion Fellowship. I defended my dissertation in December of 2009, a year after I taped my episodes. I graduated in 2010 and am now teaching at Michigan State University.
I'm a proud alumna!
I appeared on Jeopardy! way back in April 2002, well before the idea of wide-reaching social media. Being on Jeopardy! was a dream of mine reaching back to high school, so achieving my dream and being a one day winner was amazing. Fast forward to 2016, when I was invited to join the alumni group of former contestants on Facebook. I am so honored to be among such a fabulous group of fun, witty and kind people from all walks of life. Being a part of that group has truly been the best part of my Jeopardy! experience!
I had just received my $12,001 in winnings when my wife and I went to a Rotary convention in Sin
I had just received my $12,001 in winnings when my wife and I went to a Rotary convention in Singapore. I had always said that if I had "mad money," I would get three things: a Rolex watch, a tailor-made suit and Cuban cigars. When we got there, we spent an afternoon fulfilling that dream, buying the watch, getting measured for the suit and purchasing the smokes. I went up on the roof to light up and enjoy an adult beverage while my wife went to the room to rest. When I came back, she was on the bed crying. I asked what was wrong, saying that this had been one of the greatest days ever. She said, "I guess I need to tell you I'm pregnant!" Fortunately, I had about two-thirds of the money left, so we closed in our carport for a den and freed up the extra bedroom for baby #2, Jason, who became our Jeopardy! baby.
Attached is a picture of me with Jason, now 18 years old.
Robomom Reaches Out
I had wanted to be on Jeopardy! since Mrs. Bowie Kuhn was on the program back in the 1960s. When she said you had to pass a test to be on the show, I decided that was the one for me.
When I actually took and passed the test, and then got the call, I was thrilled. The crew was amazing – they accommodated me and my wheelchair, screwing a director's chair to a box so that I would be the same height as everyone else.
Alex and I talked about the "Robomom" nickname my kids had given me and about my multiple medical "gifts." When the first show aired, I had a call that evening from a woman in Virginia who had the same condition. I had always planned that I would share my winnings with charity. I had no idea that I would also be sharing my life story with other people. That was even more precious. Thanks, Jeopardy!
A voice from my past ...
I was introduced in the show as a police officer from Rockville Centre, NY. So after my two shows aired, I received a phone call from the Rockville Centre Police Department. They had received a phone call from a Miss Weiszmiller who was my third-grade teacher. She told me that Jeopardy! was one of her favorite shows and how proud she was to have a former student on the show. She said she remembered me as being a voracious reader even as a third-grader.
First, I (finally) paid off my student loan after more than 20 years.
Then I indulged myself with some of my winnings toward my real passion: astronomy. Because I only had a five-inch telescope, I bought myself a much larger telescope and mount – a full nine-and-a-quarter-inch scope that lets me see a lot deeper than before.
I'm also using my winnings to travel around the Southwest to go to star parties and to visit astronomical sites. A star party is where other astronerds like me go out camping with our scopes for up to a week at a time to do some serious astronomy from a very dark sky site, as far away from civilization and its light pollution as possible.
It's been pretty fun that some of my friends here in Denver now refer to me as "Jeopardy! Jon." Although that could just refer to my penchant for getting into trouble.
What's Your J!Effect Story?
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