Doug Grimshaw said he has been a fan of the hit show “Jeopardy!” since he can remember. This week, he was on it.
The economics teacher at Burbank High School appeared in an episode of the game show aired on Wednesday evening, just three days after longtime host Alex Trebek died of pancreatic cancer at age 80. Grimshaw earned second place in the competition, earning $2,000.
Though he wasn’t able to achieve a win, Grimshaw said by phone that he enjoyed his time on the show and took pride in how he did.
“I thought I would be nervous when the show actually started and we were competing,” he said. “But I actually felt pretty comfortable and I got to give a few responses pretty early in the game and I … got into the rhythm pretty quickly.”
Grimshaw explained that he records and watches “Jeopardy!” often, playing along at home with his wife. In 2017, he auditioned to appear on the show but never heard back. But this year, after taking an online test and auditioning via Zoom, he got a call in late August with an offer to be a contestant.
“It was one of the most exciting phone calls that I’ve ever had,” he said.
Grimshaw said he has always been interested in trivia, doing the Los Angeles Times’ Sunday crossword puzzle every week, but he had only about two weeks to prepare before the show was taped on Sept. 8. Being a longtime fan of the show, he added, didn’t give him much of an advantage; the questions aren’t repeated between episodes.
One piece of preparation that was helpful, Grimshaw said, was the rehearsals. The practice allowed him to get used to hitting the buzzer in time to answer a question — it was best to press the button right after Trebek finished speaking, he explained. Grimshaw even purchased a short book written by a former “Jeopardy!” champion about buzzer-pressing techniques and preparation strategies.
“I was nervous and excited all together, but I still felt fairly confident that I was preparing my whole life for this, pretty much,” he added.
And Grimshaw said he was, of course, a bit star-struck when Trebek was talking to him in the early minutes of the episode. Unfortunately, possibly due to COVID-19 protocols, the TV personality wasn’t around the contestants much before filming started, though Grimshaw was also able to watch Trebek host two episodes that were being taped before his.
Grimshaw’s appearance on “Jeopardy!” was announced on Burbank’s official social media sites this week. The teacher said that he had told his students and colleagues that he would be on the show — and even bumped into a former student at the store who had heard the news.
“I’m just so happy that I finally got to do that,” Grimshaw added. “It’s something that’s been on my bucket list for a long time. I’m really happy I got to do it while Alex Trebek was still the host.”