What information studies grad won a spot on Jeopardy, got her Daily Double right and found out something surprising while on set?
She’s a reference archivist from Boston who, as a teenager, was fired from her first summer job. And in June, Autumn Haag appeared for the first time (and, as it turns out, the last) on Jeopardy. Lisa Bryn Rundle quizzes Haag, who earned a master of information studies in 2007 at U of T, on the experience.
When did you first realize you were a trivia lover?
I grew up watching Jeopardy. And I just liked knowing things that my sister didn’t know. We’d play Trivial Pursuit growing up and it was one game I could beat her at.
Answer some of the questions from Autumn’s actual Jeopardy match.
So how did you do on the show?
I lost horribly.
How did you feel about that?
The guy who won the game was so dominant it was hard to feel too bad. He was really, really good.
What made you choose Jeopardy? Other shows might have been easier.
I don’t have an interest in being on any other game shows. I didn’t want to be on TV per se, but Jeopardy has serious nerd cred.
Would you consider going on Downfall – the show where the trivia questions are much easier, but losing contestants jump off a skyscraper? (You are on a big bungee cord, but still.)
Nooo. If it was something wimpier than bungee jumping, maybe – like running a mile.
What surprised you the most about being on set?
It’s a silly thing but I was totally blown away by this: Behind the podiums, there’s actually a hydraulic lift to even out contestants’ heights.
I guess they can’t have someone standing on a stack of books. So were you able to exploit your Canadian connection at all with famed Canadian host Alex Trebek?
I was really hoping I’d be able to. They ask you to come up with five things that are interesting about you for Alex to ask about, but my Canadian connection didn’t get chosen.
What did he go with?
Well, I got fired from my first job, when I was 14. I was picking strawberries and I was let go for eating too many.
Is there one particular clue that is now seared in your memory forever?
Yes! I got one of the Daily Doubles right! The category was 12-letter words and the answer was “Egyptologist.”
Do you have a favourite bit of trivia?
Maybe I should have given you a buzzer.
Oh, OK. Maybe something like… the Massachusetts state doughnut is the Boston Cream.
The weekend before your episode, the New York Times Magazine had a story about a computer that’s going to compete on Jeopardy. Do you have any advice for it?
Wear comfortable shoes.