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Third-year student to compete on ‘Jeopardy!’

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Ellen Eichner gets to check one thing off her life list. Although she still needs to be seated next to a celebrity on a plane and own her first Hérmes Birkin handbag, which retails at $9,000, Eichner has fulfilled her goal of appearing on the game show “Jeopardy!”

Eichner, a third-year in political science and communication at Ohio State, is one of 15 students selected to compete in the show’s College Championship scheduled to air beginning Monday. Her first appearance in the tournament will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, though she can’t reveal if she moved on in the competition.

Eichner, who said she has been watching “Jeopardy!” for years, saw a television commercial advertising the College Championship in February and thought, “Why not?” After taking an online test and attending auditions in April and May, she received a call just before classes started in mid-September telling her that she had been chosen to appear on the show.

“I still can’t believe it happened,” Eichner said.

Jennifer Duann, a 2010 OSU graduate with bachelor’s degrees in molecular genetics and English and a master’s in education, competed on the show in May 2009. She said she was proud to see a fellow Buckeye on “Jeopardy!”

Duann’s advice?

“Be quick on the buzzer, but not too quick,” she said.

At the end of October, Eichner flew to Los Angeles, where she and the other contestants taped two weeks’ worth of shows in two days. It was exhausting, she said, but she had a great time getting to know other contestants.

Maggie Speak, contestant producer for the show, said making friends is one of the biggest benefits of being on the show.

“This group bonded like crazy,” Speak said. “They really had a lot to share with each other.”

Speak said OSU tend to be well-rounded. She said Eichner in particular demonstrated a wide range of knowledge and represented her school well.

If Eichner wins the grand prize, she will receive $100,000. The second-place winner receives a minimum of $50,000, and the third place winner receives a minimum of $25,000. Semifinalists receive $10,000, and contestants eliminated in the first week of the contest receive $5,000.

Eichner is planning to study abroad in London and said that if she wins, she plans to use some of the money to help pay for her trip.

“But I would definitely use some of the money to go shopping, too,” she said.

Despite her friends and family’s pleas, Eichner can’t reveal the results of the show until it airs. But the wait is almost over.

The outcome Eichner’s friends, family and fellow Buckeyes are hoping for? What is “victory for Eichner and OSU.” 

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