Former Hoover resident Zach Dark fulfilled a dream several months ago when he appeared on the TV trivia game show Jeopardy! We caught up with Zach, a 31-year-old investment analyst, for a quick recap of his experience on the show.
Why did you decide to audition for the show?
Appearing on Jeopardy is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I grew up watching the game and playing against my dad. I unsuccessfully auditioned for their college tournament twice while I was at Samford and once for the regular show in 2015. There is an online test that determines who is invited to audition. The audition that got me on the show was last summer in Nashville. Around mid-November, I got a call from the show inviting me to come out to California in December.
What was the timeline for auditions and filming?
Jeopardy films five shows a day, and I was picked to play first on filming day. So my total Jeopardy experience was just one day. I won the first one by a pretty big margin, but the second one was much closer and required me to come from behind. The third one was close too, but another contestant came from behind and won it.
Who were you competing against on the show?
The contestants varied in age and occupation, but I think we were all equally excited and nervous. In my second game, I competed against a guy named Paris Themmen, who as a child was in the original Willy Wonka movie. That fact was on his card for Alex Trebek to talk about during the interview, but Alex chose to ask him about something else.
What were your winnings?
My grand total was right around $50,000.
What was the overall experience like?
The studio where they film was much smaller than I expected and much colder. There was actually still snow on the ground here when we flew out there, but it was much warmer out there as you might expect. Still, I’m glad I had warm clothes for the studio. I’m not a cold natured person, but it was very cold on set. This was at the Sony studios in Culver City, just outside L.A.
There was only a small break in between each game, long enough for the winner to change clothes and get a makeup touch-up. By the third episode (my loss) I was physically and mentally exhausted. If I had won that one, we would have gotten a longer lunch break. Oh well.
My family and I (my wife, parents, and sister all went) had never been to L.A., and we had a great time.