Indian Trail woman fulfills her Jeopardy dream

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 04:26 PM

Susan Shikany took lifelong dreams for $200, Alex. 

Shikany, a media specialist at Hemby Bridge Elementary School, appeared on the game show Jeopardy Wednesday night, where she came in third, taking home $1,000. 

“I always wanted to be on Jeopardy. Always. Since childhood,” Shikany said. She said that when the producers called her to ask her to fly to California she hung up and just sat for a moment to reflect. 

“This is incredible,” she said. “This is something I have always wanted and it’s really happening.” 

Shikany said she used to watch the show when she came home from lunch in elementary school, then watched consistently when it switched to an evening time. 

“I watched it consistently just because I think it’s interesting...I just think it’s cool to know stuff,” she said. As a media specialist, she does a lot of research, which she thought might come in handy during the game. 

Her journey to California began three years ago when she started taking the online test. She said she took the test and they said they may call, but she could continue taking the test. So she kept registering and taking the test to become a contestant when it was offered. 

Last year, over spring break, she got an e-mail inviting her to an in-person audition in Nashville. 

At the in-person audition, future contestants take a written test, which is graded, then they play a few practice games to get used to the buzzer and the question and answer format and they have mini-interviews, similar to when Trebek talks to contestants on the show. Contestants are in an active pool for 18 months. 

She said she had a strong feeling they would call her and in October, they did. 

The producer asked if she could come to a taping in December and to check her calendar. She said her calendar said that if Jeopardy calls, she is available. 

“I was thrilled,” Shikany said. “It was very unreal, but I was thrilled because I did have a really strong feeling they would call me.” 

Shikany had never been to California. She flew over with her husband and one of her sisters came with her parents. 

“It was just thrilling for all of us,” she said. “We had a great time.” 

For her, the most exciting moment was walking onto the set for the first time. 

“It was tremendously exciting,” she said. 

She was also excited when there was a category about children’s literature and she answered a daily double wager correctly with Dr. Seuss. 

Many of the students at Hemby Bridge Elementary watched the show. Shikany said a lot of them brought her cards on Thursday saying good work, we’re proud of you and featuring Dr. Seuss pictures. 

“They’ve been really excited for me,” she said. “It means the world to a contestant to have people behind you.” 

She said they wished her luck on the marquis in front of the school and the principal sent out a message to people saying she would be on. 

“It was really nice,” she said. “I just felt supported and honestly, it was a blast.”

She and about 30 people gathered at Madison’s Coffee House in Indian Trail to watch the episode. 

“It was just really fun. It was very heartwarming,” she said. 

She encouraged anyone who has ever wanted to appear on Jeopardy to take the online test.