By Sulz, Dave on April 22, 2020.
Sharon Lawson’s appearance tonight on the popular television quiz show “Jeopardy!” won’t just fulfil one of her bucket list items. “It was pretty much my entire bucket list,” said the long-time fan of the show starring host Alex Trebek.
Lawson, who works in the Dean’s Office in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge, said in a phone interview Monday she was already “getting pumped” about her “Jeopardy!” appearance. While the show’s taping occurred in February, the realization started to hit home earlier this month, just before the start of two-week-long Jeopardy College Tournament, when Lawson realized she knew the person who would be the returning champion at the start of this week’s shows. Felicity Flesher was part of Lawson’s contestant pool at the time of the taping in Culver City, Calif. In fact, she knows all of this week’s contestants.
“It seemed so far away… Now it’s like, ‘holy cow!'” said Lawson.
Lawson has been a huge fan of “Jeopardy!” ever since the show’s return to the airwaves in 1984 with Trebek as host.
“I can’t remember not watching it since it came back on in the ’80s,” she recalled, adding it became a dream to one day appear on the show as a contestant. She was also an avid watcher of the “Jeopardy!” spinoff, “Rock and Roll Jeopardy,” which appeared on MuchMusic in the 1990s.
“That was the show that got me thinking, maybe this could happen.”
Fast-forward to September 2017 when Lawson took the online “Jeopardy!” test. In January 2018, she received an email inviting her to Vancouver to participate in a contestant audition. She earned a spot in the contestant pool, where she would remain eligible for 18 months. As the 18-month mark approached and she hadn’t heard from the show, she decided she would have to try the process again and made plans to take the online test once more.
Then came the call that made her dream come true: Could she come to Culver City for a taping?
Lawson came, and not alone. “I was lucky in that three of my friends were able to come down, too.”
“It was crazy trying to get flights figured out,” said Lawson, whose taping was scheduled for Feb. 23-24. She acknowledges she was fortunate with the timing in view of the COVID restrictions which came soon afterward. Taping of the show was suspended in mid-March.
Lawson said meeting Trebek, a fellow Canadian, was a thrill.
“I admit I was a little bit starstruck. We talked about being Canadian, which was really cool,” Lawson said. “I thought he looked really good, all things considered. It was just shy of a year since his cancer diagnosis.”
The COVID crisis has altered Lawson’s plans for a “Jeopardy!”-watching party, which was originally going to take place at the U of L Zoo. Now, she and her friends and family will instead gather online via Zoom.
While Lawson admits that’s unfortunate, “it is what it is.”
In spite of that, Lawson is thrilled to be appearing on “Jeopardy!,” and as far as she knows, she’s the first contestant from Lethbridge. One thing she knows for certain is that she beat “pretty astronomical odds” by making it to the “Jeopardy!” lineup.
Lawson is scheduled to appear on the “Jeopardy!” showing airing today at 4:30 p.m. on Shaw Cable Channel 76, at 5:30 p.m. on Channel 83 and at 8 p.m. on Channel 16.