Abby Grubbs: U-32 Alumni on Jeopardy!

The studio was cold. Abby hadn’t thought about the temperature when she was watching the show. She only focused on knowing the answers. But now, sitting in a chair having her makeup done by a professional, about to participate in one of the most popular games in the country, Abby couldn’t help but notice the temperature.

On October 2nd, U-32 alumni Abby Grubbs appeared on the game show Jeopardy!   Abby attended all six years at U-32 and her life was influenced by her time here. She had Sarah Volinsky and Adam French in their first years at U-32 and her study of Spanish motivated her to pursue a career around language. After college she lived in El Salvador for four years and now she works at Duke University as a study abroad coordinator.

Abby Grubbs was born in Berlin, Vermont, under the name Abigail Hall. Abby was raised on Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier and graduated U-32 in 2004.  She first grew interested in Jeopardy! seriously in 2014. She watched it every week, and eventually she started to get the answers to the questions right.

“My husband said that I should apply,”Abby said,”because I knew all the answers.” 

Abby went online and took the test. She did well enough that she got called for an interview. 

In early August of this year, Abby, her husband, her mother and her father-in-law flew to LA to film the show. They stayed in an Airbnb and spent some time sight seeing.  From there, they proceeded to the studio where Jeopardy! is taped.

Her party entered the studio and were met by producers. The producers brought them to a room where they spent hours signing paperwork. From there, Abby was taken to a room where she spent a couple more hours getting her makeup done. After this grueling process, she went to another room where she got to participate in a practice round of Jeopardy! and get used to the lights and the buzzer.

She also met lots of other contestants on the show, including Jason Zuffranieri, someone who had won 19 games of Jeopardy!. “I was really intimidated when I saw Jason,” she said, “but he turned out to be super nice.”

Abby was told that during the taping of the show she would sit in the audience and when her name was called she would go up on the stage. So Abby took a seat and waited. And waited. And waited. She watched hours of Jeopardy! from the audience. 

“They didn’t call my name that first day,” Abby said, “so I had to come back the next day and do the whole process over again.”

On Wednesday, August 7th, while sitting in the audience after another round  of paperwork and preparation, Abby’s name was called out. She made her way up to the stage and spent the next 20 minutes competing on Jeopardy!

Abby buzzed in 13 times and got ten questions correct. “I probably knew all the answers,” Abby said, “but I wasn’t very good with the buzzer.” 

Eventually, it came to the Final Jeopardy. The answer was: “A chain of volcanoes is named for this mountain range where the continental USA’s deadliest eruption took place.” Abby bet all her $5,000 and wrote: “What are the Cascades?” She doubled her money, took second place, but didn’t have enough to win.

After her round of Jeopardy!, Abby went back to sit in the audience. Eventually, she left the studio.

 “I was trying to stay in the moment,” Abby said, “but a lot of my memories of that night are a blur.”


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