Felton resident Jack Mooney appeared on Jeopardy! on Oct. 14. — contributed

Local man appears on renowned show

Longtime Jeopardy! aficionado and Felton resident Jack Mooney lived out a lifelong “dream,” appearing on the celebrated game show on Oct. 14.

Mooney said he began watching Jeopardy! as a teen.

“We’d sit down as a family and watch during dinner… After years of sitting down and picturing myself there, I got to appear on the show,” he said.

In January Mooney took the game show’s online test as he has for the past 10 years. After finishing the quiz, Mooney told his wife, “I don’t think I’ve ever done that well.”

Two months later, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and Mooney’s game-show aspirations took a backseat. However, the Jeopardy! staff had not forgotten about the Felton father of four. In April, they requested Mooney to take two more tests over Zoom. Mooney sprung at the opportunity, with “a pen in hand” to mimic the buzzers contestants use on set.

It wasn’t until July when Mooney got the call.

“[I was] throwing my phone around the room with excitement, trying to answer it,” he said. 

For the next several weeks, Mooney was flipping through digital flashcards of “literature, playwrights, geography, presidents and Shakespeare, all commonly occurring topics on the show” and planning the “crazy whirlwind” ahead. In late August Mooney’s family of six took the opportunity for a road trip to Culver City to tape the show.

Mooney shared some tips and tricks on his mind during the shoot, “When you’ve watched the show for a longtime, you get a feel for common answers. Out of all the Shakespeare questions, there’s only 10-15 different pieces of information you need to know… During Single Jeopardy, you have more room to take risks as the answers are worth less.”

Even with these well-thought-out strategies Mooney didn’t win this game of Jeopardy!. In Single Jeopardy, Mooney found the first Daily Double and bet his lump sum on it, but he was stumped to come up with the holiday hinted, saying “I didn’t study up on Earth Day.” After that abrupt check to his momentum, he made several attempts to regain the lead, but ultimately finished in third place.

Mooney’s $1,000 winnings “will cover our impromptu family trip, after taxes,” he said.

Looking back on the experience, Mooney said he had no regrets. 

“Not everyone can accomplish their dream during Covid,” he said. 

Those who share Mooney’s dream of appearing on Jeopardy!, have a good chance of accomplishing that goal during the pandemic, Mooney said.

“The contestants are almost all from California right now, as the staff are not allowing anyone to fly to the set,” he said.

Prospective contestants can try their hand with an online quiz at jeopardy.com/be-on-j/anytime-test, if they’d like to enter the potential contestant pool.

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