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Hilliard woman appears on Jeopardy!

Kristen Seigel almost missed her opportunity when she sent a phone call from Los Angeles to voicemail.
Credit: Jeopardy!

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A teacher from central Ohio who works at Springfield High School is appearing for the first time as a contestant on "Jeopardy!" Friday night.

Kristen Seigel spoke to 10TV on the day the episode would air.

She wasn't allowed to say much about what happened, but she did say the show took COVID-19 seriously.

"They were really super cautious with COVID," she said. "There's no audience right now. It's only the other contestants...very much with social distancing, everyone wears masks all the time except when you're at the podium ready to tape. You handle your own microphone and your make-up."

For Kristen, this has been a long time coming.

"I've been trying out for many years at this point and I got invited to Zoom audition this year," she said. "They had to kind of change up how they normally do it. And they called me up and said, 'this time is your time,”

The audition is a lot like the real thing, she said.

"It's a two-phase audition," she said. "You take a test and you also get to play a miniature version of the game and they kind of try you out to see how you do and you also do some interview-type questions like they do in the middle with Alex or Ken, asking you questions."

The timing was bittersweet. She said she found out she'd be on the show about a week after longtime host Alex Trebek died.

"So it was really sad timing, but it was exciting because they hadn't yet announced who the guest host was going to be," she said. "So I was able to really get in on the ground floor of something new. It's a totally surreal experience to say I've been watching this on TV for years and now I'm here."

But the opportunity almost escaped her because she didn't recognize the phone number.

"When the call came in, everybody sends unknown calls to voice mail now, and it was a Los Angeles phone number and I was like, ‘I'll just send it to voice mail,' and I look at it, and my husband was like, 'Who was that?' and I was like, ‘A Los Angeles number. It's not 'Jeopardy!' They'll leave a voice mail if it's 'Jeopardy!' and I got a voice mail and I was like, 'Maybe it is!'"

She has a fan club rooting for her at home, too: her students at Springfield High School.

"I coach our academic team - which is like quiz bowl - and I think this has got me a lot of cred," she said. "All my students are like, 'wait, really? The real 'Jeopardy?' Like, TV 'Jeopardy?'" And they're all watching and asking me to tell them how I did. And I can't tell them. You'll just have to watch me and see."

Jeopardy! airs at 7:00 pm weekdays on 10TV.