An ERISA attorney's 23-year quest to win on “Jeopardy!” ended because of a silent letter.
Julie Stapel, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Chicago, was a contestant on the iconic quiz show on Oct. 29 and went into Final Jeopardy! with $8,000 in the bank and the category of Africa. Things were looking up for Ms. Stapel; she'd spent many recent commutes to work looking at continental maps to bone up on geography. She bet it all.
Then came the answer: The country in the Horn of Africa whose name in English has a silent first letter.
She said she blanked and could only answer “What is Ivory Coast?”
The returning champion, Nikki Grillos, got it right — What is Djibouti? — and won $16,000.
Ms. Stapel still won $2,000 for appearing.
Ms. Stapel's said her experience still was an exciting culmination of what began as a failed audition in 1992. She tried eight other times to win the 50-question online qualification test before finally nailing it in April. She then passed a live audition in Kansas City, Mo., in June and taped the episode in Los Angeles Sept. 15-16.
“My mother was a huge fan of the original "Jeopardy!' with Art Fleming,” she said. “When the new version of "Jeopardy!' came on with Alex Trebek, I was 12. We would watch together until I left for college.”
What she'll remember most about the experience won't be the taping, however; it'll be practicing with her nieces and nephews. “I miss not being able to do that any more.”