Answer: This Augusta woman won more than $53,000 on “Jeopardy!”

Question: Who is Jessica Garsed?

Garsed, a 32-year-old medical librarian at Togus, won $53,199 during four games of “Jeopardy!” that aired last week. Togus is the veterans hospital at the VA Maine Healthcare System campus outside of Augusta.

She won the first three “Jeopardy!”games, earning $12,600, $20,000 and $19,599, and came in third, winning $1,000, in the last.

A regular viewer of the show, Garsed said she took an online test on a whim after people told her that she should be on “Jeopardy!” The online test asks 50 questions of participants at a quick-fire pace. She said you never learn how well you do on the test, but she got a call from “Jeopardy!” staff and was invited to an audition in Boston in May. She said she and about 30 others took a written test similar to the online test and then did a round robin against one another where they were given buzzers similar to those on the television set.

Organizers at the try out in Boston told Garsed to submit five fun facts about herself that would be used during the show, but she never knew what host Alex Trebek was going to ask about.

“You know there’s three items on a card he can choose from,” Garsed said, “but you don’t know which one he’s necessarily going to pick.”

Once she got to the California studio, she said she did not know what to expect, and Garsed said entering the studio was “a surreal experience.” One thing that stuck with her, aside from the brightly lit sound stage and the surprisingly small size, was the cold temperatures in the studio.

“They have to keep it cool so the equipment behaves properly,” Garsed said. “A lot of us will have a sweater on. You’re very comfortable in that sweater.”

Garsed said she didn’t have any nerves when she got to the television studio and started playing. Garsed said she “kind of forgot” that she was being watched by a large television audience. She said she is a competitive person by nature, but she didn’t struggle with being too competitive during the show.

“You just become really immersed in the game,” Garsed said. “It’s like playing at home when you’re shouting answers at the screen, but better.”

She said all of her games were filmed on the same day.

Trebek is battling cancer and told a Canadian news outlet that he was nearing the end of his life, according to a Tampa Bay Times report. He has hosted more than 8,000 episodes during 36 seasons on the show. Garsed said she “tried not” to think about being one of the final few contestants during the Trebek era.

“It was pointed out to me by family members (that I may be one of the last ones),” she said. “We try not to think about that because we’ve grown up with the show.

“My grandpa said it best; for him it’s really sad because it’s like he’s part of the family. They’ve watched him every day there’s a new show on for the last 36 years. He’s become almost like a friend.”

Trebek clearly loved his job hosting the show, she said, adding people would ask him questions about his health.

“You can tell he really loves what he’s doing,” Garsed said. “Somebody had asked him how he’s holding up and he said he went in for a treatment.

“Yet, here he is, four days after treatment and he’s up there doing his thing. If you don’t love your job, you don’t come to work when you feel that lousy.”


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