Xavier alumna Lauren D’Souza appeared on Jeopardy on April 27, where she placed second and won $2,000.
Lauren grew up watching the show, and her family continues to be loyal fans. When Jeopardy aired at an earlier hour, D’Souza would rush home from school so she wouldn’t miss an episode. A regular viewer and self-described “trivia nerd,” she never thought she would be a contestant.
A few years ago, her boyfriend took the Jeopardy-themed online test and encouraged her to do so as well. Her initiative paid off when she was chosen as an alternate contestant for the 2017 Jeopardy College Tournament.
“They selected 15 college students and a 16th alternate, which was me,” D’Souza said. “They flew me out to the studio where I met the other contestants, and I participated in rehearsals. While it was a bummer that I didn’t get to play, the whole process was so much fun.”
After her collegiate Jeopardy experience, D’Souza began taking the online test for adults. Her persistence paid off once again when she was called to audition last spring. There, prospective contestants took an in-person test to ensure the accuracy of their online test. After acing her audition, she was chosen as a contestant in January 2020 and taped the show in February.
“Being on Jeopardy was a dream come true,” D’Souza said. “The producers remembered me from the college tournament, and while I was nervous, they’re great at easing their contestants’ nerves. Rehearsals were held in the morning before the show was taped. My parents, brother, boyfriend and boss were all there to support me.”
According to D’Souza, the show does not provide any preparation materials. She says one of the best ways to prepare and be successful is to watch as many episodes as possible.
“They embed little tricks and clues into the questions,” D’Souza said, “which you will only recognize by understanding all the nuances of the show. Also, future contestants should check out the website j-archive.com, which contains every Jeopardy episode.”
D’Souza encourages everyone who likes trivia to take the online test. She says budding contestants have eight seconds to type an answer to a question, and the test includes 50 questions in various categories. Contrary to what some may think, these hopeful contestants don’t have to earn a perfect score; a threshold exists, and they only have to answer correctly about 35 of the questions.
Based on her personal experience, D’Souza says, “about 80,000 people take the online test a year, but they can only invite about 2,000 to audition, which is held once a year in several cities around the U.S., and only 400 contestants make it on the show for the season.”
A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, D’Souza resides in Los Angeles, where she works in environmental sustainability. She maintains her passion for Jeopardy through her membership in a couple of Facebook groups that are devoted to former contestants.