The Cost of Auditioning for Jeopardy

When I first got the email saying I was invited to audition for “Jeopardy,” half of me was already spending the money I would win. I figured I would crush the literature and food rounds for five nights in a row, and then I would figure out the answer to “Final Jeopardy!” thanks to some pivotal life event (a la Slumdog Millionaire). But, I was also somehow sure I would forget every fact I’ve ever learned—that I would flounder through all the Biblical names, forget how many wives Henry VIII had, blurt out that Lisbon was the capital of Spain, and basically live on YouTube forever where people could watch Alex Trebek disinvite me to “Final Jeopardy!” on a neverending loop. He actually does that if you do badly enough in the first two rounds (he awards you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul).

However, before I could spend my winnings or shell out hundreds for therapy, I actually had to get to my audition. The internet told me that I would have to take another written test, play a practice round in front of producers (with real “Jeopardy” buzzers—swoon), and have a short interview (this is exactly what happened, so thanks internet!).

I was coming from upstate New York to my audition in NYC; I could have just taken a bus there and back in one day, but when I got my interview date (they assign you a specific date and time) it was around the same time I had planned to meet up with friends in North Carolina for a weekend of frolicking. After a few days of major indecision and FOMO, I decided to do both in one weekend. I realize this is convoluted and muddies the financials a bit but I couldn’t choose.

Here’s how everything shook out.

(FYI: “Jeopardy” doesn’t pay for anything; you even pay for your own transportation and lodging in L.A. if you’re taping an episode.)


• One multi-city plane ticket: Syracuse to Charlotte; Charlotte to JFK  –  $326.30.
• One Metrocard to get from JFK to Times Square – $5.00
• One Greyhound bus ticket from NYC to Syracuse – $40.00

Food/Misc.: Not counting any food from earlier in the weekend (drive-thru corn dogs are better forgotten anyway)

• One large water bottle and packet of three Advils at the Charlotte airport  – $7
(I don’t normally buy bottled water, but after this weekend I needed it. I needed it you guys.)
• Small orange juice that I forgot, unopened, under my seat on the plane – $4
• Pre-audition feast at the Au Bon Pain near Times Square –  $13 (Caprese sandwich, large lemonade, Chocolate Chip Cookie)
• Stain remover wipes from Walgreens  – $4
We were supposed to wear business casual attire for the audition (basically what we’d wear if we got on the show) and my crumpled suit jacket was looking a little bit (ok a lot) worse for being stuffed into the bottom of my carry-on with all the crumbs and other junk. The “improved stain fighting power!” didn’t really work, but at least I smelled #fresh during my audition.
• Two granola bars and one bag of Goldfish at the bus station – $6

Additional costs

I lost $400 in potential airline vouchers. The flight to New York had apparently been overfueled and was too heavy to take off (comforting), so they needed to get 12 or so people off the plane. Flight attendants were handing out vouchers like candy. I would have missed my audition if I took a later flight, so I just gripped my armrest and tried to be chill.

Charges for extra data/minutes on my phone bill. I racked up an obscene amount of texts and calls trying to poll my family and friends about which “anecdotes” I should use. You know which ones I’m talking about: the palpably awkward question and answer session that happens right after the first commercial break. The “Jeopardy” people ask you to come up with those before your audition and submit them as part of your paperwork, and life lesson learned: You will never feel more boring than when you try to pick out the five most interesting facts about yourself (“I don’t like watching people brush their teeth. Is that dynamic and fun?”).

Non-monetary gains

• One “Jeopardy” brand pen
• One “Jeopardy” brand set of headphones (I don’t get it either)
• Getting to mingle with my fellow contestant hopefuls, most of whom seemed to live in Brooklyn with cats and no TVs
• Getting one step closer to my third favorite mustachioed man (Hercule Poirot and Ron Swanson currently occupy the top two spots, but if I ever meet Alex, all that might change).


Emily Powers works in publishing.

Photo: Joseph Hunkins



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