And the Final Jeopardy! answer is … This Long Beach resident has wanted to appear on the program since she was in junior high school.
The correct Final Jeopardy! response is: who is Julia C. Shear Kushner?
It took four tries, but Shear Kushner made it onto the "Jeopardy!" stage. Notably, she appeared on the first show that was hosted by Ken Jennings. Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning streak on the game show with 74 consecutive wins, was selected as the host after Alex Trebek died last November.
“It was really moving, and, it was a long day,” Shear Kushner said about Nov. 30, the day she competed. “I was scheduled to tape Sept. 23 and it was canceled, I assume for Trebek’s health. The second time I was re-scheduled to Nov. 9 and on Nov. 8 got a tearful call from the contest coordinator that Alex Trebek had passed.”
About two weeks later, she got a call saying that the game was going to starting taping again: “it’s what Alex would have wanted,” Shear Kushner was told.
The pandemic even played havoc with being a game show contestant.
“Three years in a row I did the online test and then played the in-person test, but they don’t tell you much else,” she said. “This time, because of COVID-19, the in-person test was done over Zoom and they filmed us to see if anyone was being coached. Over the summer, I found out I passed the Zoom test.”
Shear Kushner, an attorney, said she only got three or four hours of sleep the night before. Plus, she had to drive from Long Beach to Hollywood in time to arrive at 7 a.m. The taping of the show went from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The show first aired Jan. 11.
“It was a long shoot because it was Ken Jennings’s first episode,” she said. “I had cookies and a drink with me, but no food or drink were allowed indoors. They gave us breaks to go outside to eat, but for game show protocol, you had to have someone supervise you.”
Shear Kushner led after round one of game, amassing more than $4,000, while her two competitors, Tamay Kothari and Jim Gilligan, had $1,200 and $800 respectively.
But the second round was another story.
“Tamay definitely had me beat on the buzzer,” she said. “I knew about 90% to 95% of the answers, but I just wasn’t faster on the buzzer.”
Shear Kushner said her goal was to have money so that she could be in Final Jeopardy, and indeed she did. But her answer was incorrect; she bet all of her $6,000 and finished with zero.
The Final Jeopardy! answer was: The name of this title song from a 1964 movie can be translated from Spanish as “Long live the meadows.”
The correct response was "Viva Las Vegas."
“I was happy that I was successful and I was the leader after the first round,” she said. “My best friend and I would call each other on the phone — easily, since junior high — and play every night. This is the only game show I wanted to be on, so I’m sad I won’t get to take the test again, but it was a lot of fun all-in-all and I met great people.”