For doctoral student Sara Garnett, being a contestant on “Jeopardy!” was the next step. Actually winning was an even bigger one.
Last night, Garnett knocked out five-day champion Joshua Brakhage en route to gaining $25,601 and earning on a spot on tonight’s episode.
Garnett has been involved in trivia her entire life. As a child, she would watch “Jeopardy!” at her grandmother’s house, and she always had her sights set on competing on the popular game show.
“When I was a kid, I read a lot,” Garnett said. “I was really interested in learning things. I played a lot of trivia pursuit games. In high school and college, I did quiz bowl competitions.”
Garnett took the online test to compete on “Jeopardy!” last March.
After scoring highly on it, she was invited to the auditions in May.
“They give you another test to make sure your knowledge base is good,” she said. “They also make sure you have personality for TV.”
In September, she received the call to come out to Los Angeles and tape the show.
James Madison College Dean Sherman Garnett, Sara’s father, said he’s proud of his daughter, but not surprised.
“When I heard she was gonna make it, it wasn’t totally unreal because it’s something she’s actually good at, worked hard at, always wanted to do,” he said. “To me, it’s unreal to think that your daughter is on TV, so that part of it is still unreal.”
“(For) anybody who does quiz bowl, obviously ‘Jeopardy!’ is the life goal,” he continued. “It’s like the NBA championship.”
Garnett said being on “Jeopardy!” only differed slightly from what she expected from watching the show on TV.
“There’s several episodes that they taped during the day, so there’s 10 to 12 other contestants that you meet every day,” she said.
During the taping, commercial breaks even progressed at about the same rate.
Garnett has also been involved in Team Trivia of Michigan since last May. Her team won their last trivia tournament in January.
Graduate student Nick Testa said that it’s great to see a fellow classmate compete on the game show.
“I used to go to trivia with her all the time,” Testa said. “It’s the type of thing that she’s been gunning for for a while.”