Oakton Resident Competes on Jeopardy!
Paula Currall tried out twice for the television competition before earning her spot on the show
Paula Currall didn't grow up dreaming about being a contestant on Jeopardy! Though a fan of the long-running TV game show, she felt content watching and guessing from her couch.
"I really like trivia and I like trying to see how many I can get," the 32-year-old Oakton resident said. "I think I saw an ad on TV saying you can try out online, so I did."
After she heard nothing back the first time, she decided to try again. Because prospective contestants can only take the qualifying quiz once a year, she had to wait until January 2010. Then in May, she got a callback.
Her episode taped in August and aired Oct. 18.
She came in third, with a total of $1,400 on her board after Final Jeopardy!
"I wasn't really nervous, but maybe I should've been nervous so I would've done better, I don't know," she joked.
How well one does on the show depends on the board, Currall said. If she could've had it her way, the board would've been filled with literature, mythology and word puzzle clues.
Currall hasn't seen the episode herself. She was in the Caribbean when it aired and forgot to record it. But her grandfather taped it on VHS and will send it to her.
Currall, married and mother of 16-month-old Jane, has a bachelor's degree in literature from Wake Forest University (N.C.) and a master's degree in journalism from New York University, but credits her good long-term memory for her trivia skills.
"I just remember strange things," Currall said. "I mean, I like to read ... but I really think it's just that I retain strange information."
Her experience on Jeopardy! was surreal, she said.
"[I]t takes a long time to get set up ... so it doesn't seem like you're on TV when you're in the studio for so long doing rehearsal and all that," she said. "I don't know how to explain it. It was just surreal. That's all I can say."
And, of course, meeting host Alex Trebek was an experience in and of itself.
"He's very nice," she said. "He complimented my shoes, which I really appeciated. I was really more worried about what I was going to wear than, you know, about the questions."