LIBERTY STUDENT RECALLS HER EXPERIENCE ON JEOPARDY! – “One of my favorite parts of being on the show was the friends I made.”

Imagine taking the preliminary test to try out for your favorite popular game show — then getting the call to audition and participate on live television. 

This scenario came true for Liberty junior Natalie Hathcote, a member of Liberty’s Quiz Bowl team who was given the opportunity to represent Liberty on a college-themed episode of “Jeopardy!.” Hathcote was the first student to represent Liberty on the college-themed episode of the show, which happens every year.

Although she did not win, Hathcote spoke of her experiences on the show, including making new friends and being isolated without her phone.

“Our first day of taping, we spent the morning doing promos and then we would do different mock rounds with no audience,” Hathcote said. “The mock rounds used fake readers and were used to see who looks good next to whom. Then the actual taping was in front of a live audience, and no one knows the questions. It was really surreal, but really cool.”

Hathcote described what down time looked like for her and the other students who were participating.

“They sequestered us like a jury,” Hathcote said. “I spent most of the day cooped up in the green room.”

When asked about her nerves in front of the live audience, Hathcote spoke of her experience participating on the Quiz Bowl team.

“Weirdly, I am used to being in high-pressure trivia situations from being on the Quiz Bowl team,” Hathcote said. “My episode was the last to be taped, so I had been in the green room the whole day. The nerves and anticipation had stilled after a while. I got out there, saw the audience, realized I was on national television, then I tightened up and did the thing. I guess it was adrenaline.”

Hathcote’s episode aired a couple of months after the filming, leading to some strange moments throughout the delay as Hathcote kept her results under wraps. 

“I had over two months of waiting and thinking ‘Oh no, everyone’s going to see me lose on Jeopardy,’” Hathcote said. “I would have people come up and wish me luck on the show, even though it had already happened. I couldn’t talk about the show because of the non-disclosure agreement. We also had taped before COVID-19, so we had not anticipated the amount of attention we were going to get since there are no sports on television.”

Participating in the show had its advantages, including meeting the famous host Alex Trebek.

“One of my favorite parts of being on the show was the friends I made,” Hathcote said. “The other contestants and I became pretty tight. I got to spend a whole day with other people who are nerdy enough to try out for a game show like Jeopardy!, but sort of outgoing enough to make it on the show. We have a group chat, and we hold Zoom conferences still.”

“Also being able to meet Alex Trebek was a really cool thing,” Hathcote said. “I have been a Jeopardy viewer since I was a little kid, so he, as a personality, has been a part of my life for a really long time.”

Daniel Ellis is a Feature writer. Follow him on Twitter @dnaieltyler

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