Published on July 18th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
What is … a winner?
Fort Jackson attorney competes on Jeopardy
Pictured above; Capt. Campbell Warner poses with Jeopardy host Alex Trebek during the taping of the show. Warner won two episodes for a total of $37,200 in prizes.
By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson Leader:
FORT JACKSON, SC — Capt. Campbell Warner said he didn’t spend much time planning for his appearance in the game show Jeopardy.
Still, his lack of preparation didn’t stop him from winning a pair of episodes, as well as $37,200 in cash prizes during his three days on the show.
“I got a few books with the intention of studying, but that just fell by the wayside,” said Warner, a Staff Judge Advocate officer at Fort Jackson. “I did appellate law in (Washington) so I was pretty much at my desk all day doing research for briefs, or drafting briefs … I had plenty to think about already. By the time I got home, my brain was fried.”
His episodes aired July 8-10, but were taped earlier this year in March. The process actually began in the fall of 2012, he said, after completing an online application on a whim.
“There was an online test just for military,” he said. “I was at the government appellate division at Fort Belvoir, (Virginia). Two of my buddies and I decided we’d take the online tests, see how we do and compare notes the next day. We all thought we blew it.”
The following April, Warner received an email from Jeopardy Productions. He said the message’s lack of fanfare made him suspect it was a hoax, at first.
“It’s not an official-looking email; it’s just an email from some random person,” Warner said. “But, they wanted me to come to New York City for a contestant audition.”
The tryout took place over the Memorial Day weekend in 2013. The audition was in New York City, a train ride away from his home at the time in Washington.
“The audition was a lot of fun,” he said. “I told my wife that, even if I didn’t get on the show, the audition itself was great.”
The audition involved groups of 18 contestants who were asked to complete a 50-question test. After that, they got their first looks at the game play.
“They bring three people up at a time and practice on the mock game with the buzzer and screen, and they ask you a few mock interview questions to see how you do on camera,” he said. “It was a combined military/civilian audition.”
The following February, he received a telephone call inviting him to compete on the television show in March.
He said his memories of the actual competition are a little fuzzy.
“The way it works is they tape five episodes a day, two days a week,” he said. “It’s definitely a blur. There are some things I remember about the shows, but watching them for the first time when they aired, that’s when things start to come back to you.”
Since filming his three episodes of Jeopardy, Warner, a native of Rock Hill, was reassigned to Fort Jackson.
“For the Tuesday night show, my wife and I drove up to Rock Hill and had a watch party at an Irish pub downtown,” he said.
On the day the episodes were filmed, Warner said he spent almost three hours backstage before the game began. Contestants were given additional instruction on the rules of the game, provided with wagering hints, filled out tax forms for winnings and had make-up applied before they stepped in front of the cameras.
Warner said he also received a surprising lesson in law backstage. Contestants were told not to have any interaction with members of the audience, especially family members. Production staffers were very careful about protecting the integrity of the game.
“We were told not to wave at them or look at them,” he said. “It’s a highly regulated field. There are all sorts of federal laws that govern game shows, (outlining) what they can and can’t do. It dates back to the quiz show scandals of the 1950 and 1960s.
Even though he didn’t do much to prepare himself for the kind of questions he would have to answer that day, Warner said he had a strategy in mind for any topics involving art or opera.
“I decided that if I ever got a category on art or opera, I would just pun my way through it,” he said. “There are certain clues that pop up, and it always helps to know those. But, if you know it you know it, if you don’t, you don’t. I decided just to have fun with it.”
His prize winnings will probably go toward student loans, he said.