What it’s really like to audition for ‘Jeopardy!’


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Chances are you’ve said “I should go on ‘Jeopardy!’” at some point in your life, whether it be while watching the show on your couch or after winning at your favorite restaurant’s trivia night. 

Nearly 70,000 people audition for the show each year, but only 300-400 are actually selected to be on air. How do you get to be one of the lucky few? WSAV went behind the scenes of a “Jeopardy!” 36th season audition this week, right here at home.

The first step of the audition process is to take the online test. It’s completely free and can be taken anywhere you’d like. If you pass the test, you might then be invited to come to an in-person audition. 

At these auditions, hopeful contestants take two 50 question written tests, play a short round of the game and answer a few personal questions. 

The same written tests are given in every city to create an even playing field, so we can’t reveal too much about them. 

Once contestants finish testing, they are randomly called in groups of three to play a shortened round of the game. Senior Contestant Coordinator Corina Nusu said this part of the audition process helps determine how a contestant will behave on the show and if they will be able to ring in correctly. 

Nusa and “Jeopardy!” Clue Crew member Sarah Whitcomb Foss described the perfect contestant to us:

The final step of the audition process is a brief personal interview. These are done in front of the room and are very relaxed. Contestants are asked about their professions and hobbies as well as what they would do with their winnings if they made it on the show. 

The room was full of all kinds of people, from lawyers and teachers to students and call center operators.

The winnings plan varied even more than the professions. Several people said they would use their money to travel or pay bills, while others plan to use their winnings to prepare for a new baby or donate to charity. 

We talked with three hopeful contestants about why they auditioned, what they’re nervous about, how they prepared and more. Meet John Haywood, Andre Havrylyshyn and Betsy Bates: 

An exciting part of the audition process for candidates was getting to hang out with “Jeopardy!” Clue Crew member Sarah Whitcomb Foss. Foss has been a “Jeopardy!” correspondent for 18 seasons, traveling all over the world collecting question clues. 

Foss has visited all seven continents, all 50 states and over 40 countries with the show. She said her favorite trip was to Antarctica. 

Foss had an adventure right here in Savannah a few years ago: 

Foss said the best part about her travels is being able to share the things she learned with contestants and “Jeopardy!” viewers. 

“I think any program that rewards education and knowledge is rare these days and is certainly something to be celebrated,” Foss said. “To be associated with a show that everybody loves for different reasons is pretty special.” 

“Jeopardy!” Host, Alex Trebek, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, announced he has been responding well to treatments and is actually in near remission, according to his doctors. 

Foss said the entire “Jeopardy!” team is grateful for the news and the support given by fans of the show. 

“He is the first one to thank everyone, all the fans, viewers, friends and family for that support, those well wishes, the good thoughts and prayers,” Foss said. “He is very, very definite that those helped. We’re starting our 36th season in July, and it will air September 9. Alex Trebek is going to be with ‘Jeopardy!’ for many years to come.”

Do you think you have what it takes to compete on “Jeopardy!”? Take the online test here. 

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