Londyn Lorenz has aspired to be a contestant on “Jeopardy!” since she first began watching the show at 4 years old. During the first week of February, she traveled from Oxford to Los Angeles to realize her dream.
Lorenz, a 19-year-old sophomore international studies major, said she has been preparing to buzz in on the “Jeopardy!” stage all of her life. Always picking up and memorizing random facts, she participated in the scholar bowl in high school and is now a member of the college quiz bowl team at Ole Miss. She also attends trivia night with friends at The Blind Pig pub in Oxford every Monday to pick up new trivia.
“Everything I’ve wanted to do in my life was to be on Jeopardy,” Lorenz said, “So now that I’ve done it, it’s like, ‘What do I do now?’ … You’re not supposed to achieve your dreams, I don’t think … It’s like, I’m peaking too soon.”
After her in-person interview for the show in November in St. Louis, Lorenz assumed she didn’t make the cut.
“Nobody had heard from them,” she said. “So, I was like, ‘Oh, man. I didn’t make it. It’s fine.’ And then I got the call.”
While sitting in an airport in early January after visiting her brother in California, Lorenz received a call from an unknown number. Initially, she said she thought someone from the hotel she had just checked out of would be on the other end, telling her she had left something behind. Instead, she answered the phone to discover that she had become one of 16 college students chosen to compete in the “Jeopardy!” college tournament.
Lorenz said she took the online test for the “Jeopardy!” College Championship in October with her friend Alyssa Langlois, a freshman international studies, public policy leadership and French major.
Lorenz said neither of them were sure of their chances, but after running into each other at a tailgate for the Croft Institute, the friends found out that they both had been chosen among 300 other college students for in-person interviews. While Langlois did not make it past the interview portion of the process, she said she is excited that someone she knows is going to be on TV.
“I immediately texted my grandpa and told him he would have to cheer for Londyn when the time came,” Langlois said. “(She) has a great personality for TV and is incredibly smart. She deserves this completely.”
Lorenz’s father, Kevin Lorenz, said he felt “super proud and excited” that his daughter was fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers. He also said he always encouraged Londyn to watch “Jeopardy!” from a young age because she was such an inquisitive child.
“She’s a blessing to me,” he said.
After flying to California again, this time with her father, Lorenz finally got to meet other contestants.
“I’m just a really competitive person in general, so I figured we’d all be at each other’s throats,” she said.
In reality, she made 15 new friends. Some contestants recognized each other from the interviews. Bonding on what Lorenz called the “Jeopardy Party Bus,” which carried them to the studio, Lorenz said the next few days became more than just a competition. When sequestered off-set in the green room, they could be found watching “The Princess Bride” and playing “off-brand Jenga.”
“We all became like best friends,” she said. “It’s nice because we’re all really nerdy and Type A because we have to be on TV.”
Lorenz said they all plan to keep in touch. She has even convinced several of her competitors to visit Oxford for the Croft Institute’s formal in April.
“I cried on the flight home just because I was like, ‘I miss my friends!’” Lorenz said.
And yes, she did get to meet Alex Trebek.
The crew was very protective of him, Lorenz said, but he was fun while filming the promos for the show. She recalled one instance when Trebek acted as a referee and the contestants were football players.
“All the producers were like, ‘Alex thinks you’re cool!’” Lorenz said. “I was like, ‘Alex thinks I’m cool? Oh, my God!’”
Lorenz and her peers will compete for $100,000 on the “Jeopardy!” College Championship on air between April 6 and 17.