“I was just in shock because I love Jeopardy!, I love the show. I keep up with news on it. But I never thought that I would actually get the chance to be on it,” said Yejun Kim.
One Naperville native will be putting her trivia skills to the test when she appears on the Jeopardy! National College Championship next week. Kim, who is a District 204 and Waubonsie Valley High School alumna, is currently a student at Northwestern University.
How it Happened
In late 2020, she and her roommate decided to take the college online test that is a part of the application process. “We took it for fun in the living room. We didn’t actually think anything would come of it,” said Kim.
But something did. In early 2021 she went through two rounds of virtual auditions in a mock game with other students and the producers of the game show. “We thought that was just like crazy to begin with,” said Kim. Finally in September of last year, Kim received the news that out of 24,000 student applicants nationwide, she was one of 36 who would be flown out to Los Angeles to try and ask all the right questions.
“My first thought was oh my gosh this is so exciting, I’m going to be on TV. And the second thought was, I have to go study,” said Kim. “Being on the show was probably just terrifying. Sometimes I wish I enjoyed the moment more, but it was honestly just so scary. But it was surreal to see the set, see the board. Our host was Mayim Bialik and she was super kind.”
While parts of the experience were nerve-wracking, the college senior still had a favorite moment. “I loved getting to write my name on the little podium screen,” said Kim. “I just thought that was so fun and it only took me two tries so I was really proud of it.”
Though she had watched the show regularly growing up, it wasn’t until years later that the chemical engineering student would tune back in. And it was thanks to another Napervillian – James Holzhauer, also known as Jeopardy James. Holzhauer holds the record for second highest earnings on a regular show run, and the top 16 slots for highest earnings during a single episode.
“I remember that news being huge in Naperville,” said Kim. “That came out while I was in college, and that helped re-remind me that Jeopardy! existed.”
Kim on Jeopardy! February 9
Kim is the only representative from an Illinois college or university in the show’s new college competition format. You can cheer her on February 9 as she competes for $250,000. The episode will be broadcast on ABC-7 at 7 p.m.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
photo courtesy: Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.
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