Cheering for Local Jeopardy Champ

Cheering for Local Jeopardy Champ

In a world with more scripted series than anyone can fathom and so many streaming options services appear to be cannibalizing each other, there isn’t much common currency in TV viewing. Unless it’s a show like Jeopardy, which the New York Times says is among the most popular on television, outside of sports programming.

So, when the first person I’ve ever had even a tangential connection to went on a recent three-week Jeopardy winning streak, it created excitement in our household and many others around West Virginia.

Not only did media coverage hit papers here, I also found a post-streak recap in the Indianapolis Star.

Thin Connections

Cheering for Local Jeopardy Champ blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured a Jeopardy board with a West Virginia map over the top of it and letters in the shape of the map spelling out "West Virginia"I say “tangential” because I’ve never met—and chances are I never will—Adriana Harmeyer, a 2006 graduate of Spring Valley High School in Huntington.

She also obtained her bachelor’s degree locally at Marshall University. From there, she went on to get her master’s at the University of Michigan and is now an archivist and assistant professor at Purdue University.

I have two razor-thin connections to her. A good friend knows her mother and the daughter of another friend graduated last year from Spring Valley. Yeah, not much, but you take whatever you can get.

Still, to see a native of oft-maligned and ridiculed West Virginia tearing it up on the national stage … and knocking down winnings of almost $350,000 before her streak ended at 15 … sent up a collective cheer across the hills.

Spreading the Word

After four or five wins, I texted a couple friends in Florida to alert them to the budding streak. Then emailed another in Georgia. A few days later, I alerted a family member who doesn’t watch much broadcast TV.

At the start of week three, I mentioned it to a friend in Louisville. She responded with a lengthy email in which she talked about “rooting for Adriana” and rattling off the winning streaks of other multi-game champions.

Granted, at 15 Adriana is far short of Ken Jennings (74), Amy Schneider (40) and Matt Amodio (38). But she’s also only one win outside of the top 10 list, which ends with Ryan Long at 16.

The nice thing about a show like Jeopardy is you don’t have to go into any lengthy descriptions in discussing it. Everybody knows about it, even if they don’t watch it.

Truthfully, in the past, my wife and I were only occasional viewers and then often only five to 10 minutes at a time.

Instant Information

Pictured: A hand held magnifying glass over a google search screen The other nice thing is we live in an age of instant information online. So whenever we were unable to watch, within a few minutes of the show ending I could Google “who won Jeopardy today?” and get the answer.

That came in handy after Adriana’s final victory. That’s the evening our wavering TV antenna reception (we’ve been cable-free since 2013) shorted out in the midst of a lightning-driven storm 10 minutes before the show ended.

Best of all, though, is Adriana will have another chance to add to her winnings in the next “Tournament of Champions.”

Whenever that series airs, I’m sure the viewer numbers around our state will be higher than they were during Harmeyer’s original appearances.

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