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Lansing Jeopardy! Champ Talks 'Greatest Of All Time'

Alex Trebek and Robin Miner-Swartz photo
Courtesy photo
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Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
Robin Miner-Swartz, on the set of Jeopardy! with host Alex Trebek. She won $29,400 in her two victories on the show.

Robin Miner-Swartz of Lansing was a contestant on Jeopardy during Christmas week, and she won two games before a Christmas Day defeat.

WKAR’s Scott Pohl spoke with her prior to the airing of those episodes. Scott asked Robin back to talk about the experience, and the ABC “Jeopardy, the Greatest of All Time” competition that starts tonight.

SCOTT POHL: We had you in to preview your appearance on Jeopardy!. There were things we couldn't talk about in that interview. Now we can! You won a couple of times. Congratulations!

I wanted to ask you about your time there, a little bit more that we couldn't talk about in that earlier interview. What happens between games, what happens after your final appearance when you're on Jeopardy! as a contestant?

ROBIN MINER-SWARTZ: Well, let me first start by saying I am so grateful that I grew up in the WKAR studios (Robin’s mother, Carol Welch, is a former WKAR staff member), because the least of my worries was being in a TV studio. That, now looking back, is something that was a big issue for a lot of people. There was some stage fright, not like Cindy Brady freezing up on camera kind of stuff, but people who were uncomfortable in a TV studio. It was like working the (former WKAR-TV) auction, you know? I was in my element. It was great. So that part I loved.

It happens so fast. We have a long morning of previews and prep work and practice. When they shoot that first game, it's an instant. My name got picked. I was in the first game. We went out there and started recording. I won. The floor director called me “champ,” which is my favorite thing that has happened, and they led me offstage to change clothes. I was back in under 15 minutes. It might have only been 10 minutes I had, so I had to change clothes, they retouched my makeup, put the mic back on again, got us up at the podiums, and we were back and running.

A FAST PACE ON JEOPARDY!

When I talked about how I really didn't remember a lot of the experience, it's because everything was such a blur. It was so quick. Robin Miner-Swartz

POHL: When do you get paid, or have you been paid?

MINER-SWARTZ: Not yet. The paperwork we signed says it's about 120 days after the shows air.

POHL: One other reason I wanted to have you back was to talk about this special that's going to be on ABC starting Tuesday night, Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time. First of all, it starts at 8 o'clock on Tuesday night. What do you know about the format?

MINER-SWARTZ: I know that they've got to win three matches to win this whole thing, and there are two games in each of the hour-long slots. It's a little bit like the NBA Finals, I think, for them. It's a total point score, I believe across the two games in each of those hour-long slots, so it's a little more complicated than being able to run some good boards and win a game.

POHL: It's my understanding that the winner gets $1-million, and the other to get $250,000. With this format, it'll be at least three nights and could be as many as seven on ABC, all on prime time.

MINER-SWARTZ: Yeah, that's a really lucrative spot for them, but the hype that they've got surrounding it, I think they're definitely going to get the viewership to back it up.

PRIME TIME EPISODES HAVE ALREADY BEEN TAPED:

Before my show aired, I was talking with one of the contestant coordinators, and Glen said 'I'm off to the airport to go pick up Ken, Brad and James right now.' Robin Miner-Swartz

POHL: Ken Jennings Brad Rutter, James Holzhauer: from what you've seen of these contestants, what strengths do each bring to the game, and do you notice any weaknesses?

MINER-SWARTZ: Speaking from experience, I know the weakness that comes with age is reaction time, and that's where James has the advantage. He's the youngest, he's the freshest player in the bunch. But with age also comes experience and life experience and wisdom. There's more information in your brain the older you get, because you've encountered more things. I think it could be a pretty evenly matched game in terms of knowledge, but you have to figure the buzzer into it every single time.

POHL: I wonder if they'll toughen up the questions.

MINER-SWARTZ: I've heard they have.

POHL: Care to predict a winner?

MINER-SWARTZ: I don't, because I'm not rooting for any one of them. I'm just excited about this format and being able to watch more Jeopardy! and watch it in kind of a different way. I know that there are a lot of people for and against all three of them, so I think the fun place to watch this game is going to be on Twitter.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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