Amanda Rosner is not your average Weinberg freshman. The 18-year-old trivia whiz recently visited California to compete in the “Jeopardy!” College Tournament. Although she can’t provide details about the competition until her episode appears this Wednesday, Rosner was more than willing to share her thoughts about her journey to one of the most famous quiz shows on television.
How long have you been watching the show?
I really got into it in seventh grade when we played “Jeopardy!” in math class for review and I kept getting nearly every question wrong. Usually, it wasn’t due to me getting the math wrong, but it was rather that I always forgot to say “What is…” before it. So I started to watch “Jeopardy!” to get in the habit of knowing to say “What is…” before the answers. Then, in 8th grade, when I was watching it there was a triple stumper question, which is when all three contestants don’t answer or get it wrong. And I got it right, and it was based off what I had learned in science class that days, which was “What is a joule?” and in that moment, that’s when it changed. That’s when I started loving “Jeopardy!”.
Why did you decide to try and compete?
Well I owe a lot of this to my roommate Joanne… I did Quizbowl and she did something similar. We were talking and she asked “Have you ever thought about being on “Jeopardy!”?” and I said “No, it wouldn’t happen.” But she said, “Wouldn’t it be great to go on before Trebek retires?” So that kind of planted that seed, and I realized this year that I qualified for both the college tournament and the adult one. I could take both the college test and the adult test, and I realized: “Why not try out? This is my life dream. It’s my Super Bowl, I might as well try out.” I didn’t think anything was going to happen but I guess I can say that it did, and I’m still in shock.
How did you prepare?
So, I did a lot of online trivia. A lot of it. I also watched “Jeopardy!” whenever I could and after our audition they gave us a clicky pen that’s modeled after the buzzer, so I would watch “Jeopardy!” at home and practice. When the question was done being read, I would click in with my pen. And I also prepared by trying to answer everything in “What is…” form. So someone would ask me how I was doing today and I would say “What is good?” just to get in the habit of it. I also intensely studied betting strategy. Because there are wildcard spots*, you don’t always have to play for first you can play for a high second. So I had a lot of spreadsheets going and, with people who understand math to help me, we came up with what a predicted wildcard cutoff would be, what score I needed to be at.
Do you feel like you’ve peaked?
Oh yeah, it’s all downhill from here. This was my life goal and honestly, I need to set a new one because I have nothing to reach for, so maybe “Wheel of Fortune”? Or the “Price is Right”?
Do you have anything to say to your fans who will be watching Wednesday?
Thank you for watching, this means a lot. If I don’t ring in, it's not necessarily because I don’t know the answer but it's because it becomes a battle of the reflexes. So I might try to ring in and I can’t and I get locked out.
*Wild-card spots are given later in the tournament to the highest earning contestants who didn’t win their round.