January 08, 2013

This is Jeopardy!

Over the holiday break, a familiar face appeared on Jeopardy! It was the face of Wentworth's registrar, Nichole Mancone.

Mancone had just started at Wentworth in August when she heard the good news that her audition on the game show Jeopardy! had been a success. She was selected as a contestant and invited to tape a show in Culver City, CA, in September. 

First, though, she needed permission to take a handful of days off from a job she had just started. Luckily, she wasn’t the only game show fan on campus. Provost Russell Pinizzotto, she recalled recently from her Wentworth office, told her: “Just go. Go, go!”

Mancone arrived in Culver City and found herself being shuttled between her hotel and the studios along with the other contestants, an employee from the U.S. State Department and a banker from New York. “They sequester you,” Mancone said. “It’s like being on a jury.”

Once inside the studio, she and the other contestants went in for make-up, while the production staff gave them a run-down of how to use the clicker, followed by sound bite testing. Meanwhile, a third party legal auditing company watched over—the result of the American quiz show scandals of the 1950s where the outcomes of seemingly fair games were rigged.

During commercial breaks, the production team again helped the contestants with make-up and answered questions about using the clicker and having it respond quickly enough. The staff struck Mancone as extremely professional and organized. In fact, the team is able to film five shows—enough episodes for the entire week—in a single day.

Meanwhile, the show’s host, Alex Trebek, kept it casual with contestants and the audience during commercial breaks. When Mancone was there, a robbery at Trebek’s house had recently been covered by national news channels, and the audience peppered him with questions. “They could ask him anything, and he was game for it,” Mancone said.

Although Mancone can’t appear on the show again (official policy), the experience still has her glowing. “It was everything I thought it would be and more,” Mancone said.

Mancone won the first round, which aired on December 27, with $21,100. The second night, after leading the whole game, she lost in final jeopardy due to a bad wager, Mancone said. "I should have wagered zero, but wagered $5,000 because I thought I had a good shot at the category (American Authors)."

So goes the game of luck and Jeopardy! Still, Mancone fared well in the end. "I came in second and walked away with an additional $2,000."

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