Ex-area resident gets ‘Jeopardy’ chance

A lifelong “Jeopardy” fan saw his dream come true when he was chosen to appear on the show.

On Monday, former Fredonia resident Josh McIlvain will be in front of millions of people doing what he believes to be the greatest experience of his life. The show airs on WIVB at 7:30 p.m.

McIlvain is a SUNY Fredonia alumnus who majored in music therapy.

Due to a signed contract McIlvain couldn’t reveal too much of his experience, but he could give away a few details.

On meeting his idol “Jeopardy” Host Alex Trebek, McIlvain said it was very interesting.

“It was a thrill to be on camera with him,” he said. “He is a very cool customer with a dry handshake.”

McIlvain added it is hard to sit on the knowledge of what happens next week, but he did say the other contestants were very nice people.

McIlvain could give the detailed process of how he was chosen.

“I took an online test last January and you have to be at your computer at a certain time to answer about 50 questions in 15 seconds,” he said. “A month later I got an e-mail giving me a chance to audition for Jeopardy, and I chose to do it in New York City in May.”

McIlvain explained once at the audition he was given another test and interviewed about his life and what he would do with the money if he won. “You have to just be yourself and have fun,” he said. “You want to be someone they want on TV.”

McIlvain added when you audition you can wait a long time before you hear anything. “I got the call a week before Halloween telling me I would be on Jeopardy,” he said. “I was so excited to get that call; it is unbelievable; never done anything this exciting in my life.”

Jeopardy doesn’t pay your expenses so McIlvain said he had to buy his own plane ticket and pay for his hotel.

“I flew out to tape the show in November,” he said. “I brought my little sister and fiancee with me.”

In the ’80s when Jeopardy was just starting to become popular the McIlvain family would watch it every night.

“I watched it all the time with my parents,” McIlvain said. “When I was in high school I was on the quiz bowl which is like Jeopardy.”

There is a Jeopardy legend named Ken Jennings who won about 74 games and to this day his record is unbeaten.

“It is because of him you can’t win more than five times now,” he said. “Everyone wants to be the next Ken Jennings, let me tell you.”

In 2010, South Dayton’s Jason Zollinger had an amazing run on “Jeopardy,” winning more than $100,000.

McIlvain’s Fredonia aunt Deborah Brent said she can’t wait for the show on Monday.

“This is something he has always wanted to do,” she said. “We are all very supportive of him.”

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