|Jeopardy host Alex Trebek and contestant Dan Rothfarb.|
The show was filmed in March, on the Sony lot in Los Angeles, but Rothfarb promised the show’s producers not to talk about the results. “I definitely got some right and some wrong,” he says.
“The show was more fast paced live,” he says. It’s not enough to know the answers; you have to be the first on the buzzer. “You live and die by the buzzer.” He did offer one teaser: “I can’t believe I got to say this on television.”
Rothfarb, a technical writer and editor who works as a consultant for the Federal Aviation Administration, moved from Arlington to the Broyhill Crest neighborhood four years ago. Originally from south Jersey, he majored in creative writing at Dartmouth and has a master’s degree in English literature from Georgetown University.
To apply for Jeopardy, Rothfarb filled out an online survey, then was randomly selected to come to a tryout in Georgetown two years ago. At that event, Jeopardy personnel evaluated potential contestants on whether they would look good on TV and whether their personality is entertaining enough and looked at how they interacted with the other applicants.
Rothfarb learned he was selected in January and only had a few weeks to study, although he says, “I’ve been preparing my whole life.” His strong points are geography, life sciences, and history.
He couldn’t do as much studying as he would have liked, with a two and a-half year old son taking a lot of attention – and another baby on the way. He used to do pub trivia but hasn’t had time in recent years.
In the few weeks he had to prep before the show, he read a lot of Wikipedia articles and made lots of lists, such as world capitals, lakes and rivers, presidents, Shakespeare plays and characters, and Academy Award winners. He also studied up on popular culture, an admittedly weak area for him.
“The show is so fast there’s no time to be nervous,” Rothfarb says. “They do a good job pumping you up before it starts.” Before the show, the producers ask the contestants to share personal stories, and host Alex Trebek is given cue cards so he knows what to ask them about.
This was actually Rothfarb’s second attempt to get on Jeopardy. He and his wife, Sarah Lichterman, both tried out in 2010, were both chosen for the “contestant pool,” and she made it on the show. She did very well and came in second, Rothfarb says.
In 2010, Annandale High School graduate Roger Craig (class of 1994) won big on Jeopardy. He earned the show’s highest one-day total in cash winnings, $77,000, which beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings. Craig went on to win the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions in 2011.