COLUMBIA — Lindsay Eanet compared the experience of finding out she qualified for the "Jeopardy!" College Championships to a memorable scene in the movie "Little Miss Sunshine," in which the young star learns she is a contestant for the Little Miss Sunshine pageant and runs through the house screaming with glee.
"Everyone has that weird little ambition," Eanet said. "I have always wanted to be on 'Jeopardy!' And I have a freakish memory. I remember the most random weird little details."
Eanet, a senior in the Missouri School of Journalism, got to live out this dream in early January when she participated in the college championships. The show airs at 5 p.m. Friday on KMIZ/Channel 17. Although she is not allowed to say how she did, Eanet talked about getting on the show.
To qualify to appear on the show, she first had to complete an online test. Then, she competed in a regional competition in Chicago. After that, she received a call from the producers saying they wanted her to fly to Los Angeles to compete in the championships, which were filmed Jan. 5 and 6 at the Sony Studios.
Eanet described the event as exciting and a little scary.
“There were 15 quarterfinalists, and five of them were from Ivy League schools; it was intimidating," she said. "We all had preconceived notions about each other at first, but then we got to know each other. They were all really bright, and there was no animosity between us. The group had a very interesting dynamic.”
The group now has its own Facebook group to keep in touch and post interesting bits of trivia.
Since the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals were all filmed within two days, there was a great deal going on. Unfortunately for Eanet, her quarterfinalist group was last to compete, allowing her almost the entire first day to sit and wait in the green room.
"I was a little jittery," she said. "But I didn’t get nervous until the second half of the day."
Eanet said that once she was on stage at the competition, it was surreal.
"It lived up to my expectations and then some," she said. "Sometimes you will buzz in, ready to answer the question, and as soon as Alex (Trebek, the host) says something you go blank. But you have to just keep going and move on.”
Having her family come along helped her get through the event, Eanet said.
"It was great having my family there," she said. "It was nice having a neat little support system."
"Jeopardy!" was a childhood staple. Eanet recalled getting a snack each day before sitting down to watch the show after school in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Ill.
Today, her interest in trivia extends beyond "Jeopardy!" She regularly attends trivia night on Tuesdays at Tin Can Tavern and Grille and once tried out to be a contestant on the former VH1 show "World Series of Pop Culture."
Laura Myers, then an MU journalism student, also appeared on the college championship of "Jeopardy!" in May 2009.