After spending nearly half of his life competing on “Jeopardy”, Erik Ahasik had finally made the cut. It was the morning of April 19 and he was sitting backstage on the set of the game show in Culver City, Calif., feeling more nervous than ever. The show tapes five episodes a day and he had a wish.
“I remember going, ‘Just don’t let me be the first. Let me watch a game or two and be comfortable,'” said Ahsik, 32, who has been a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Chanhasen office since 2015. “And then I found out I was on the first show and it was like, ‘Hey man, here we go.’ ,
Ahhsik’s episode will air on Kare 11 on Monday at 4:30 pm. And he is eager to re-live the experience.
“I don’t remember much about that episode, to be honest, so it would be fun to watch,” he said. “During the final threat where you write your bet, my hand was trembling. I hope it doesn’t look too obvious on TV.”
A native of Illinois, Ahasik grew up loving trivia, whether it was playing at his grandmother’s house or competing in the Quiz Bowl in high school. During Ken Jennings’ record-breaking streak of 74 consecutive wins in 2004, he was pushing hard for “Jeopardy”.
“It was right when I was starting high school,” he said. “I could answer a few questions and thought I’d apply. I’ve been trying since 2006. For teen tournaments, then college tournaments, then regular shows. It’s been a long process.”
Competitors can apply once a year, starting with an online test. If you pass it, you take the second test which was previously conducted in person, but since the start of the pandemic, in a Zoom call. If you pass it then you get audition.
“After that, they say ‘we’ll call you,'” he said. “I made it to that stage three or four times, but never got that last call.”
In March 2021, he took the exam for the 15th time, auditioned in July and finally called back in March of this year.
How did he prepare for the show? “I hear people say there’s no way to study for ‘danger’, but I think there is. The best way is to look at it every day. They ask the same kind of questions and You get to know what they ask,” he said.
Ahsik spent much of the winter reading Wikipedia and exploring a fan website that offers a searchable archive of every episode from the show’s history. “You don’t have to know everything,” he said. “You just have to know a little bit about everything.”
The makers do not provide transportation or accommodation, but expect contestants to be available for a COVID test on Monday and on set on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ahsik decided to make it a one-week trip and spend the rest of his trip enjoying the California sun. But on the day of taping he found himself in a cold sweat.
“It’s a very high-stress environment, but the best part of the experience was that the employees are very good at what they do,” Ahsik said. “Everyone involved — the contest coordinator, the cameraman, the host — helps to calm things down so we can have fun with it.”
As nervous as Ahhsik was, he did a quick rehearsal with mock rounds of the game.
“When they called my name and I replied, it calmed down a little bit,” he said. “Well, I can do it. I’m not going to suffocate completely.”
Simultaneously, the show started at lightning speed and accelerated.
“I just had to ride the wave,” he said. “Your brain doesn’t work the same way it does when you’re at home, responding to screaming at the screen. But it was such a fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Watching it and revisiting some of the finer details It’s going to be a lot of fun to live because it went into so much gloom.”