Trivia Trials: Jeopardy game show searches campus for contestants

The television game show “Jeopardy!” will visit Florida A&M University to recruit FAMU administrators, faculty, staff and students to be contestants for both the College Championship and regular shows.

On Jan. 29 and 30, “Jeopardy!” executives and staff members will be on campus to find prospective contestants to compete on the game show. FAMU is one of six colleges or universities in the U.S. and the only historically black college or university that “Jeopardy!” will visit.

“FAMU was chosen because of its outstanding history with academic scholarships,” said Vivian Hobbs, director of FAMU’s Southern Association of Colleges and Schools department.

Hobbs, who is also the supervisor of FAMU’s Honda Campus All-Star challenge, a national academic competition for HBCUs, said the game show learned of FAMU through alumnus Robert James. James is now a “Jeopardy!” contestant executive.

“James put in a good word for us,” Hobbs said. “He helped get “Jeopardy!” to see the potential at FAMU.”

When Samantha Lockley, 21, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Jacksonville, heard about “Jeopardy!” coming to FAMU, she said she immediately knew she wanted to participate.

“I grew up on Jeopardy!” Lockley said, “and now that it’s coming here, I actually have a chance to be on the show.”

While this is the first time that “Jeopardy!” will be recruiting contestants on campus, this is not the first time FAMU has been represented on the game show. Hobbs said in 2000 former Honda Campus All-Star player and alumna Natalie Tindall was a contestant on the College Championship show.

“She represented FAMU well,” she said. “and we’re looking for more people to do the same.”

According to SACS coordinator Janelle Jennings-Alexander, “Jeopardy!” executives have divided the game show into two categories: the regular show, which allows for faculty, staff, administration and alumni to participate and the College Championship for students.

To be a contestant for the regular show, individuals must be at least 18. For the College Championship, individuals must be a full-time student with no previous bachelor’s degree.

Alexander said she hopes to get at least 100 students and 100 faculty and administrative staff members to participate.

“We want to make a lasting impression on the “Jeopardy!” executives so that they will come back to recruit from FAMU again,” she said.

Alexander said interested individuals must call the SACS office to register and get an appointment time. The process will last about two hours and will consist of a written test, interview and a mock game round, she said.

According to Hobbs, there are no guarantees that “Jeopardy!” scouts will select contestants from FAMU, but she encourages everyone to participate.

“We are just honored that they chose FAMU,” Hobbs said. “I am sure that the “Jeopardy!” executives will find some talent among us.”

Third-year pharmacy student Tanya Miller, 21, from Fort Lauderdale, is excited to know that the game show is recruiting students from FAMU.

“I watch “Jeopardy!” all the time and never see an HBCU represented,” Miller said. “To know that FAMU may be one of the first is pretty cool.”

Hobbs and Alexander are anticipating a positive turnout and believe FAMU will make a permanent mark on the “Jeopardy!” staff.

“As long as participants come in with a sharp mind, competitive spirit and positive attitude,” Hobbs said, “they will do just fine.”