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Penn State Student to Compete in Jeopardy! College Championship

by on April 08, 2020 11:21 AM

Penn State senior Kylie Weaver will give Nittany Lion fans the closest thing to sports that they’ve seen in nearly a month when she competes in tonight’s episode of the Jeopardy! College Championship.

Weaver is one of 15 college students participating in the tournament and competing for a $100,000 grand prize. The tournament began Monday and will run through April 17.

After being one of more than 18,000 college students to take the online test to qualify last fall, Weaver was invited to an audition in Philadelphia. More than 300 potential contestants moved on to the audition, and only 15 were selected for the tournament, which was filmed during the first week of February at the Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California.

She found out that she had made the cut while at a meeting at the beginning of the semester and was amazed that she’d be fulfilling a lifelong dream.

“It just seemed so statistically improbable that I would actually get a call from Jeopardy,” she said. “Especially because when I was in middle school I took the Kid’s Test and was invited to audition then as well, but nothing ever came from it so I thought it would be a repeat of that.”

Even as someone who watches Jeopardy! on a regular basis and tries to convince her friends to do the same, Weaver said she’s gained a new appreciation for the production of the show after being set.

“When you watch Jeopardy, all you see is Alex and the three contestants but just off-screen there’s a huge group of people right there to make sure we look good,” she said. “I think the thing that was the most surprising to me was the amount of movement that happens on set out of view of the camera.

“The producers are monitoring and adjusting things as needed like if a contestant is buzzing in before the question is completely read they’ll get locked out of the system for a fraction of a second and the other contestants can buzz in. So, during a commercial one of the producers might come and tell them that they’re getting locked out by the early buzz.”

One such instance came during Final Jeopardy when the producers asked her to rewrite her wager because her handwriting wasn’t fully legible — something she alluded to on her contestant Twitter account.


Weaver will play against UC San Diego’s Alistair Gray and Ole Miss’ Londyn Lorenz in the quarterfinals of the beloved trivia game Wednesday. If she wins, Weaver will get an auto bid to next week’s semifinals. Alternatively, if she loses, she still has a shot at advancing as a wild card if she finishes with one of the top four non-winning quarterfinal totals.

Other Big Ten schools represented in the tournament include Northwestern, Minnesota, and Indiana.

Locally, Jeopardy! airs at 7 p.m. on WATM-ABC 23.

According to her LinkedIn, Weaver is a senior majoring in supply chain and German and has been involved with Army ROTC, Tri Sig sorority, Lion Ambassadors, and THON as a Dancer Relations committee member.

To practice social distancing, Weaver said she plans to watch the show at home with her family while practicing social distancing and FaceTiming her extended family. She also said that most of her friends are in a different time zone, so she’ll do a separate Zoom watch party with them.

Nittany Nation, which hasn’t had much to root for other than Twitter polls the last few weeks, will certainly be cheering Weaver on and hoping no one beats her to a question about Keegan-Michael Key.



Anthony Colucci is a writer for Onward State
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