CULVER CITY, C.A. — A lifelong fan of a popular game show last month had the opportunity to step on to its bright and colorful studio — and mark another item off her “bucket list.”
Karen Cafaro, a Georgetown native who now teaches English at Scotland High School, grew up watching Jeopardy! with her family. During a taping of the show on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, she became a quarter-finalist and the winner of $5,000.
“I wish my parents were alive so they could see me,” she said. “That would have been wonderful. We were avid Jeopardy! fans.”
Cafaro was in the teacher’s tournament among 14 other contestants, and came in second place during Wednesday’s airing of the tournament. The first-place winner will have the opportunity to win up to $100,000 if they make it to next week’s finals.
Cafaro said with a laugh that she’s “not a math person,” and found those questions to be a little more difficult to answer during the taping of the show. She recalled that the lights were very bright, the floor was shiny and the colors of the set were vibrant.
“It was very exciting but it was nerve-racking, too,” Cafaro said.
Cafaro said she did her best to focus on the game and as time passed, she grew to ignore the audience and calm her nerves. She said that it would be impossible to study for the game show and cramming wouldn’t help. Instead, she said it was more important to “pay attention to the news and popular culture.”
The taping didn’t last that much longer than the show — about 35 to 40 minutes. Being on the show was something Cafaro said was on her “bucket list.”
It was the fifth time she had applied to be a part of the show.
In 2008 she had taken the test Jeopardy! requires for potential contestants to take and didn’t get a call. In 2009 she was picked for an audition in Charlotte but was not chosen. In 2011 and 2012 she took the test but wasn’t called in for an audition.
After once again completing the show’s online test in January, Cafaro received an email from Jeopardy! asking that she travel to Tampa, Fla. for an audition. The audition was during spring break and after arriving the producers had all of the potential candidates take another test, play mock games and be interviewed. It all lasted a couple hours.
“I was kind of the luck of the draw,” she said.
Cafaro arrived in California with her husband, Mike, after an all-expenses paid trip. The show even provided her with spending money, she said — and the two made sure to make time for a shopping trip.
But for the teacher, the trip still came down to the facts.
“I’ve always loved trivia,” Cafaro said. “I love to read and facts kind of stick with me.”