Love on Jeopardy

[n.b. This is not a story of how to become a contestant on Jeopardy!, although you should definitely try out for the show. More info on that over at the J! website.]

On a cold winter evening in January 2009, I say down at my computer to take the Jeopardy! online test. A few months later, I heard back from the folks at Jeopardy! that they wanted me to come in for an audition, and a few weeks later, I was sitting in the basement of the St. Regis Hotel in DC with 30 other contestant wanna-bes.

At some point during that audition, contestant coordinator Maggie Speaks asked who had come the furthest distance for the audition. When a woman on the other side of the room raised her hand and said that she'd come from Ann Arbor, my ears perked up. A fellow Wolverine! Then she said that she would soon be moving to DC to work at Bread for the City (a charity I was familiar with thanks to a short-lived series of philanthropy-focused happy hours organized by a friend of mine). After the audition, I followed the woman onto the elevator and gave her my contact information, hoping that she'd be in touch once she moved to DC.

Alas, I didn't hear from her again. That is, until I ended up getting a call to come to the LA to be a contestant for a show being taped in January 2010. When I got to the parking garage, there she was! We chatted during the breaks in taping, and after lunch Maggie pulled both of our names for the same show.

The game itself was not one of Jeopardy's finest. Stacy won in a runaway and I finished with just $50 to my name. [It's true - check it out on J! Archive.] But something clicked while we were taping the show, and we agreed to plan a joint game watch party with our friends and co-workers when the show aired a few months later. After the party, we started hanging out more, and eventually we started dating. Two and a half years after that taping, we were married.

But it turns out that Stacy and I aren't the only ones who have found love on Jeopardy! We really hope that the Jeopardy! producers will consider hosting a special Valentine's Day show or Couples Jeopardy! tournament featuring folks who fell in love after appearing on Jeopardy! So we've started collecting stories of other couples who also made a game show love connection (thanks for that, Train). [Update: on February 10, 2016, J! Buzz published a post about couples who met because of Jeopardy!] Know of others that should be added to this list? Let me know!

Pre-Alex Trebek
Season 13
  • Brigid Laurie & Mark Urciuolo met during the College Championship, married, and named their kids Alex and Maggie
Season 21
Season 26
Season 28
  • Justin Hoffstetter & Catherine Whitten met when both were contestants (but did not compete against each other) during the Teachers Tournament, they married in 2015
Season 30
  • Maryanne Lewell & Michael Townes met when both were contestants (but did not compete against each other) during the Teachers Tournament, they married in 2017 (here are two other stories about them)
There are also a number of couples where both members appeared on Jeopardy!, but the show is not what brought them together
  • Jeff Hoppes (Season 21) only appeared in one game (he lost to Ken Jennings), but his wife Larissa Kelly (Season 24) was a six-time champion who played in the 2009 Tournament of Champions and 2014 Battle of the Decades (keeping it in the family, Larissa's sister, Ariana Kelly, also appeared on Season 24)
  • Nine-time champion Dan Pawson (Season 24, 2009 Tournament of Champions, and 2014 Battle of the Decades) and one-time champion Andrea Saenz (Season 26)
  • Five-time champion Kristin Sausville (Season 31) and six-time champion Justin Sausville (Season 27/28, 2011 Tournament of Champions player) hold the record for most collective games won by a married couple
Other love stories connected to Jeopardy!
  • Dan Melia (Season 13/14, 1998 Tournament of Champions, 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, and 2014 Battle of the Decades) married Dara Hellman in 2005 on the set of Jeopardy!, the wedding was officiated by fellow Season 14 ToC player Bob Harris and Alex Trebek served as the witness (video here)
  • Eddie Timanus (Season 16, 2000 Tournament of Champions, 2002 Million Dollar Masters, 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, and 2014 Battle of the Decades) met his wife while discussing game shows on an email group (on an unrelated note, his mother played on Jeopardy! Season 8)
  • Suchita Shah (Season 24 College Championship) married Siddharth Sata in 2015, several years after his parents spotted her and told their son he "should aspire to be like her."
  • Genevieve Sheehan (Season 26) met Troy Meyer via a Jeopardy! message board, they married in 2011
  • Bernard and Claire Boiko are the subjects of the 2014 documentary Game Show Dynamos, which details their collective 28 appearances on game shows between 1956-1993, including Claire's 1967 appearance on Jeopardy!