Sean Thompson grew up watching Jeopardy. Now he’s just a phone call away from his dream of making it on the television show as a contestant.
The St. Thomas University alumnus loved the “game aspect” of trivia shows growing up. After entering high school he became involved with Reach for the Top, the Canadian academic quiz competition, and was on several successful teams at Kennebecasis Valley High School that won two provincial championships and finished top five in the country.
“I got through middle and high school falling in love with trivia, and Jeopardy is sort of a natural extension of that,” Thompson said.
He cites history, sports and older television as his strong subject areas.
This isn’t Thompson’s first time qualifying. While at STU in 2010, he decided to take Jeopardy’s online contestant quiz for the first time: a 50 question test with 15 seconds to answer each one. Thompson was then invited to audition for the college championships in Boston.
“It was awesome in about every meaning of that term,” he said.
“I was just in awe that I had gotten to that part in the process to get onto Jeopardy.”
He never made the cut to appear on television, but kept on taking the quizzes as regularly as he could over the past decade, until receiving an email in October inviting him to an audition in Toronto.
“It is a little bit of a lottery,” Thompson said.
“They only have so many spots on the show, they only have so many spots for auditions.”
After getting the notice, he flew out to Toronto where the auditions were held at the Royal York Hotel.
Thompson and about 20 other auditioners went to a main audition room where they wrote another 50 question test with only eight seconds to respond to each question.
Thompson had experienced a Jeopardy audition before, but he was in for a surprise this time. Auditioners had just wrapped up answering some questions when the show’s star host slipped in unannounced.
“As he slowly walked up to the front of the room, people got silent as they realized ‘holy cow that’s Alex Trebek,’” Thompson said.
Trebek doesn’t normally come to auditions, but he was in Toronto and and decided to stop by to meet the hopeful contestants.
Thompson had the opportunity to ask Trebek which game show other than Jeopardy was his favourite to work on, in which he replied it was To Tell the Truth because for the first time in his television career he could host while sitting down.
The rest of the day included gameplay with buzzers and a personality interview which producers asked questions based around five facts. After around three hours, the participants were sent on their way with some Jeopardy giveaways.
Of the 20 prospective contestants, probably about two of them will make it on the show.
Thompson tries to keep up with the show as much as possible between his curling league and job as community service assistant at the Saint John Free Public Library, a position he credits, along with the quiz site Sporcle, for helping to sharpen his trivia skills.
The path to Thompson’s dream of appearing on the show is simply a waiting game now. His name is on file until April 2018.
He could receive a call from the producers anytime asking him to come to Los Angeles within a month to tape the show.