‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Revealed How the Game Board Isn’t at All What It Seems Like on TV – ‘It’s Insanely More Difficult’

Jeopardy! has the primary goal of appealing to the audience at home, similar to any other game show on television. The production sells a fantasy, but it still exists within the environment of a studio on the Sony Studios lot. A previous Jeopardy! contestant named Michael White once talked about his experience participating in the show and what the legendary game board is like in person. It doesn’t really operate as one would imagine watching the show from the comfort of their home.

The ‘Jeopardy!’ game board is massive in person

'Jeopardy!' game board in the studio. The steps leading to stage with the contestant podiums on the side.
‘Jeopardy!’ studio set | CBS Media Ventures

The Jeopardy! game board is perhaps the most recognizable piece of equipment in the studio. But, some audiences wonder what it’s actually like in person. White was a contestant in season 39, writing on his blog about the overall experience. He described the game board, which was much bigger than he initially thought it would be.

White recalled the “giant wall of 36 television screens” that compose the Jeopardy! game board. He wrote that he felt that he needed to “crane my neck to see the upper portions.” However, he soon realized that it was “insanely more difficult than playing at home” with all the studio lights and television cameras around.

Michael White said the ‘Jeopardy!’ game board acts different than on TV

White continued to write about the Jeopardy! game board in his blog. He compared it to the at-home experience of reading each of the clues and shouting out the answer from the comfort of his own home. The blue card fills up the entire television screen, giving the viewer an easy time reading the clue in addition to the host reading it aloud. However, the experience is quite different on the show.

“In person, though, the clue doesn’t blow up and engulf the entire game board,” White wrote. “Only the individual screen activates and shows the clue, the typeface of which is deceptively smaller than expected. My eyesight isn’t quite what it once was, and I sometimes have difficulty seeing words from far away. So I had to squint a bit to see the clues properly.”

Additionally, he revealed that the clue doesn’t immediately appear on the screen as it does on television. White explained that the host reads the clue and there’s a bit of a delay before it appears on one of the screens in front of them.

White continued: “If you’re training to be a contestant, I strongly suggest you practice listening to the host recite a clue, in addition to reading it. Don’t rely solely on reading the clue yourself—it’s much more difficult in person.”

Michael White placed second against John Focht

White played the Jeopardy! game board against John Focht and Leah Wiegand on show 8,331. The score disparity remained rather consistent throughout each round of the show. Focht remained in first place through every round to ultimately become the champion of the episode. He finished with a final score of $24,800 against White’s $11,999 and Leah’s $0 after answering a Final Jeopardy! question regarding world literature.

Focht was a four-time champion, ultimately bringing home a total of $103,800 in prize winnings, not including the $2,000 that he received for finishing second place in his fifth game.

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