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Slide show: A far-from-trivial competition

May 2, 2008

Text by Vanessa de Brujin. Photos by Bryce Richter.

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Beginning Monday, May 5, the results of an exciting week in April —
when a large production crew from “Jeopardy!” arrived on the UW–Madison
campus — will begin airing on TV screens across the country.

Hundreds of eager students waited in line at Memorial Union on April 11
and 12, hoping to successfully audition for the “Jeopardy! 2008 College

Suchita Shah, a UW senior neurobiology major, survived a written test
and mock competition to rise to the top as the UW’s representative for
the tournament — and to have a chance at the $100,000 prize.

As other contestants flew in from schools across the country, the Kohl
Center was transformed into an elaborate “Jeopardy!” set that mimicked
familiar places around campus, including the arches at Memorial Union,
Science Hall, and Camp Randall.

Slide show: Jeopardy! on campus

Photo of students taking written Jeopardy! test

The tricky 10-question “Jeopardy!” written test has students racking their brains for answers. For those who earned a passing grade, the afternoon was full of more vigorous tests and audition interviews with the “Jeopardy!” team.

Photo of students waiting to audition

Great Hall at the Memorial Union is taken over by eager students waiting to give the  written test their best try. While the exam began at 11 a.m., a few die-hard hopefuls were in line when the building opened at 7 a.m.

Photo of Suchita Shah learning she will represent UW–Madison

Much to her surprise, UW senior Suchita Shah learns that she will be a contestant in the “Jeopardy! 2008 College Championship.” Shah, who serves as a tour guide for the campus’s Visitor and Information Programs, was ambushed by the Jeopardy! Clue Crew near Engineering Hall while conducting a tour.

Photo of Shah on set with the media

Getting a feel for the stage before the “Jeopardy!” tapings began, Shah takes a few moments to speak with local media. She was one of 15 students from across the country chosen to participate in the annual college tournament.

Photo of Shah during a practice round

Shah takes part in a practice round of “Jeopardy!” before the day’s tapings at the Kohl Center began. Each contestant was able to practice using the buzzer and answering in the form of a question — the show’s signature.

Photo of contestants

Contestants from colleges across the country watch and support their competition as they take part in practice rounds. Prior to tapings of “Jeopardy!,” contestants bonded over pizza at Ian’s on Francis Street.

Photo of Kohl Center set up for tapings

Audience members get the chance to experience the Kohl Center temporarily transformed into an elaborate “Jeopardy!” set. During commercial breaks, the spectators became a sea of waving “Jeopardy!” towels and multicolored pom-poms.

Photo of audience in Kohl Center

Tapings were filled to capacity with excited fans who wanted an up-close and personal view of their favorite game show. The set was created to mirror famous UW–Madison campus landmarks.

Photo of Alex Trebek and Bucky

Two celebrities unite on the “Jeopardy!” set as host Alex Trebek and Bucky Badger meet for the first time. When an audience member asked Trebek to name his favorite animal, he received a big, warm hug from Bucky.

Photo of audience

Bucky Badger and the UW–Madison cheerleading squad are on hand to get the “Jeopardy!” crowd pumped during commercials. Many audience members brought handmade signs displaying their loyalty for the show, including one that read, “I’m skipping Math 341 for Jeopardy!”

Photos: Jeff Miller