Nine Mile Falls’ Staci Huffman to appear on ‘Jeopardy!’ on Friday
Nine Mile Falls’ Staci Huffman’s Facebook page says it all: “Trivia nerd, now with street cred.”
Huffman has been frequenting trivia nights for years, but her appearance on “Jeopardy!,” which airs Friday, makes her a bonafide trivia master.
Huffman grew up watching “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” with her parents, who would set the VCR to record the show if they weren’t home in time.
She completed the online test a little over a decade ago but wasn’t contacted and soon after forgot about the whole thing.
For one reason or another, Huffman missed announcements about the online “Jeopardy!” test, but earlier this year, someone suggested she give it another shot.
“The other thing is the online tests are usually in March,” she said. “I’m a CPA and I’m usually in busy season and it’s not high on my list to think about. Something happened this year and it all came together.”
Huffman said the online test consisted of about 50 questions for which she had 15 seconds each to answer.
Shortly after completing the test, Huffman received an email asking her where she would like to go for her next round of interviews.
She went to the in-person interview in Portland in early August. The interview began with yet another test.
“You have to write the answers down this time but I think it’s to make sure your online interview wasn’t a fluke and you didn’t have a zillion people standing around you helping you,” Huffman said.
Before heading back home, “Jeopardy!” staff told Huffman and the other hopefuls that if they weren’t contacted within the next 18 months, they were free to take the online quiz again.
Luckily for Huffman, she didn’t have to wait that long.
About two months later, in late September, a producer named Glen called Huffman at work. The call began with the producer verifying that information submitted with her application was still accurate.
Huffman went along with the conversation, but she knew something was up.
“He’s like ‘Yeah, my wife’s name is Staci and she spells it the same way.’ ” she said. “I’m like ‘Great. That’s great, Glen. Can we move on to the good stuff?’ ”
Huffman was then invited to appear on “Jeopardy!” She filmed at the end of October.
In the month between that phone call and her filming date, Huffman kept up with her trivia nights and fit in extra practice with faux “Jeopardy!” games with a group of people, including one of her husband’s colleagues, who appeared on the show in the late ’90s.
The group played using buzzers, so Huffman was able to practice ringing in before answering questions.
“I thought the most important part of that was just getting used to the fact that you might not get in every clue,” she said. “It’s not always about getting in every clue, it’s about not answering wrong. It’s about chilling until it’s the right question for you to get in and then you take control.”
Huffman also browsed an almanac and read over different material before heading to the studio.
Once there, Huffman realized the set is as colorful as it appears on TV. What she thought was green screen was actually part of the set, and the studio was as cold as she was warned it would be.
Some handled that better than others.
“There was one woman from California,” Huffman said. “She acted like it was a lot colder than it was. Then there’s us (from the Northwest) who were like ‘This isn’t cold at all. What are you talking about?’ ”
Huffman got to see Clue Crew members Jimmy McGuire, who led the practice round, and Sarah Whitcomb Foss, who announced the name of each contestant before announcer Johnny Gilbert arrived later in the afternoon.
Host Alex Trebek didn’t appear until his name was announced, but he answered questions in between rounds and chatted with the contestants at the end of the show.
“They ask you for a few little stories you could talk about but then Alex can ask anything else he wants,” Huffman said. “Case in point, the man that won last night (Dave Leffler), he had a list of things to talk about and Alex just goes ‘Tell me about your mustache.’ ”
Since returning from filming, Huffman has had a fairly easy time keeping her results a secret. She made a decision ahead of time that, win or lose, she would do things the same way and is planning to share the experience with others with a viewing party at the Sinto Senior Activity Center.
Huffman cherishes the friendships she made throughout her “Jeopardy!” process and is now part of two Facebook groups for former contestants.
Though she battled nerves at time, she’s happy to know she gave it her all.
“You realize when you’re standing up there that you have one shot,” she said. “This is your shot to do ‘Jeopardy!’ ” They don’t invite you back because they thought you were enjoyable to see in the green room.”