Jill Locascio was cruising during her run on Jeopardy!, which aired Monday. With $5,000 after the first round, she was in the lead — and it was one the academic librarian kept after the second round, too, boasting $13,400 in winnings by that point. She was crushing categories on French composers and (naturally, it would seem; the color black dominates her wardrobe) coolly fielding an item about goths.
But the next question posed was her downfall.
Kipling wrote of this city, “If a car” can “run up and down a slit in the ground…why shall I seek the reasons of the miracle?”
Before the show’s final question, Locascio wagered $5,801 she would answer correctly.
“What is San Francisco?” guessed her two opponents, Nate Burgan and Alex Navissi. At this point, Navissi had a $1 lead over Locascio.
Locascio guessed Detroit, bringing her total down to $7,599, good for third place and a $1,000 prize as the second runner-up.
“I completely froze,” says the 33-year-old Greenpoint resident. “I couldn’t even parse the question. I just saw ‘transportation,’ wrote ‘Detroit,’ knew it was wrong and was hoping for the rest of the time that it would come to me, and it just didn’t.”
Navissi won for the second game in a row, bringing his running total to a cool $26,901.
“I’m done with Kipling,” Locascio tells the Voice. “He and I are not on good terms. I’ll move on to something else.”
That was the end of her journey, which began with an online quiz in January 2014, then a second audition in Philadelphia in October, a phone call around Thanksgiving from producers who said she’d be on the show (“All I did over Christmas was look over flashcards”), and finally a January trip to Los Angeles to appear on the program.
Locascio also seized the opportunity to invite Alex Trebek to her DJ night at Metropolitan bar (559 Lorimer Street) in Williamsburg.
“I DJ on the side with my best friend, who happens to be named Jack,” she told Trebek. “So we are DJs Jack and Jill, and we DJ a dance party on the fourth Friday of the month at a bar in Brooklyn.”
There’s no trivia, but “you have to dig deep for some classic party jams,” Locascio told Trebek. “You should come.”
“Oh, OK…all right,” Trebek replied, creating one of those gloriously awkward moments the show has become known for.
“He brought it up and it was a thrill to invite him to our DJ night,” Locascio tells the Voice, noting that she’s DJ’ing this Friday at the bar.
When the show aired on Monday, Locascio could finally let go of the secret she’d been keeping since January about her performance — not that it made her any less nervous to see herself on national television.
“I had read an interview with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys that he watches Jeopardy! every night, and that’s when it hit me, that ‘Oh, my God, the man who wrote Pet Sounds is going to watch me on Jeopardy!‘ and so I was very nervous,” she says. “I didn’t have a big party or anything. I wasn’t sure if I would, like, cry [or] laugh hysterically, so I just had a quiet night at home with Champagne. I was afraid I would yell at people to shut up, too, because I wanted to hear everything.”
The morning after her appearance, Locascio was philosophical about her place in the Jeopardy! world:
“It’s fifteen minutes, because another show is going to air tonight and everyone’s going to forget that I was ever on,” she says.
She says doesn’t know exactly when she’ll get her $1,000 in prize money, but hopes to break even on the adventure: “I have a feeling that prize money is secondary to the thrill of getting to be on Jeopardy! for most contestants. Especially while Trebek is still the host.”
She also doesn’t own a copy of the episode — the show’s producers charge $170 per episode because it is syndicated (it’s not not easily or legally available online).
If you’re interested in going on the show, know that quizzes are held each January online and that you can get more information about it via the Jeopardy! newsletter.
Click play to watch Locascio’s contestant promo.