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‘Jeopardy!’ contestant from Kentucky shares impressions of guest host Savannah Guthrie

·2 min read

A Kentucky woman who has enjoyed trivia her whole life will take the stage as a contestant on “Jeopardy!” Monday night.

Jessica Newman, an attorney who graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law, appears on the show alongside NBC “Today” show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, who is guest hosting the game show.

Newman said Guthrie was “very nice, very professional” in the role.

“She was great,” Newman said. “She seemed very comfortable doing it.”

While Guthrie has made clear she doesn’t want to seek the permanent hosting spot, “Jeopardy!” has been trying out a series of guest hosts since the passing of Alex Trebek last year. Later this summer, viewers will see Dr. Sanjay Gupta, George Sephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, David Faber and Joe Buck as guest hosts.

Newman said Trebek’s imprint at the studio was palpable.

“The memory kind of loomed large,” she said. “They really wanted to maintain the standards of the show.”

Newman, who grew up in Irvine, said trivia has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember, beginning with games of Trivial Pursuit with her family as a child.

Starting in elementary school and continuing through her undergraduate years at Eastern Kentucky University, she competed in quick recall competitions as part of her schools’ academic teams.

While living in Lexington for years, Newman and her husband were frequent pub trivia competitors at Campus Pub on Waller Avenue and Shamrock Bar and Grille on Patchen Drive.

Newman, who now lives in Louisville, said she took the online test to become a Jeopardy! contestant in January 2020, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“I frankly forgot all about it,” she said.

But in November, Newman was contacted about the next steps in the screening process, and she made the cut.

She traveled to California for her taping in late March.

Masks and social distancing were still in effect at that time, so contestants didn’t get the usual “green room” experience while waiting for their turn with the buzzer.

Instead, Newman said, they got to wait in the studio where “Wheel of Fortune” is taped, sitting in the area where the audience is usually sitting.

“It was neat to see how that went about,” she said.

While Newman can’t divulge the results of her appearance on “Jeopardy!” viewers in Lexington can tune in to the show on WKYT at 7:30 p.m. Monday to find out.

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