Moment of Stardom
on three episodes of Jeopardy!
wins $56,200, urges others
to try out for the game show
(July 2012) When Madison, Ind., area residents
heard the news that one of their own citizens, Cindy Vanderbur, would
be on the nationally broadcast CBS game show Jeopardy!,
excitement swirled that the small Indiana town would be represented
on national TV.
When the first show aired on April 23, many area residents tuned in
to see how Vanderbur would do in hopes she would be successful. After
three days on the show, however, her reign ended. Now she has returned
to Madison a victor, and people are still congratulating her.
I get it all the time, said Vanderbur, 58, who works as
a contract specialist at Humana in Louisville, Ky.
courtesy of Jeopardy Productions Inc.
Ind., resident Cindy
Vanderbur poses with Jeopardy!
show host Alex Trebeck prior to filming.
Vanderbur went through a long process to gain these compliments
and praise, though. When her late husband, Larry Jones, a Madison High
School teacher devoted to academics, couldnt take a student to
the Jeopardy! auditions in Louisville almost 10 years ago,
There were thousands of people there, Vanderbur said. We
were there for eight hours, waiting.
With nothing else to do, Vanderbur took the 10-question audition quiz
along with Jones student. To her surprise, she scored well enough
to receive a call- back and went onto individual auditions and simulated
game play. When it was decided that she would move on, Vanderbur was
placed into a pool of thousands of candidates and waited.
Not until just last year, Vanderbur was called back to appear on the
show in California. Vanderbur was hesitant to accept at such an inconvenient
time but decided this opportunity wouldnt happen twice, so she
agree to go. With only three weeks to prepare while working a full time
job and enrolled in school full time, Vanderbur didnt have much
time to study.
I had a picture of the U.S. presidents in my cubical at work,
and thought Ill at least know those. But, I figured,
its like going to Vegas odds are youre gonna lose,
but you go anyway.
The show does not pay for airfare, so Vanderbur bought a plane ticket
and headed off to California. When she arrived in California, she checked
into a hotel where Jeopardy! provides a special rate for
contestants. Vanderbur then went to the studio in Culver City, where
the show would be filmed. Coincidentally, it is right next door to the
Wheel of Fortune studio. There, Vanderbur said she was was
pampered like a celebrity.
The shows coordinators were super nice. The contestants
were, too. I still keep in touch with some of the coordinators through
email, Vanderbur said.
After many rehearsals, Vanderbur was television ready.
Once youre playing, you start to forget youre even
Vanderbur said she enjoyed every minute of the experience. The contests
were wonderful, the game was seemingly second nature, and legendary
game show host Alex Trebek was very pleasant, she said.
He constantly joked around with the audience and had fun with
the contestants as well. He was as nice as can be, Vanderbur said.
Once Vanderbur had gone through three episodes of filming, she ended
up coming just $1,000 short of the winner of her final round. But overall,
she won $56,200 from her three appearances.
After she lost, she had to get away from all other contestants. The
producers of the show are very cautious of potential cheating. They
dont even allow contestants who have appeared on the show to return
until Trebek has ended his role on the program. So once Vanderbur was
finished, she and another contestant went to the nearby gas station
and celebrated their time on Jeopardy! with two mystery
meat sandwiches, as Vanderbur described them.
She then had to sign a contract saying that she would not play on any
other game show for the next year and comply that she would not tell
anyone of her winnings when she returned home. They also advised her
not to read what the cult following Jeopardy! would write
Vanderbur found herself telling her family that she came in second
and that she did better than she thought she would. Both
of which were not actually lies.
Were proud of her, but we also like to make sure that her
head doesnt get too big, joked Curt Vanderbur, Cindy brother.
Now that her episodes have aired and Madison knows of her victory, she
can speak freely and humbly accept the congratulations she deserves.
Vanderbur said she hopes her appearance on the show will encourage others
in the area to take the test to try and be on the show.
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