On Nov. 2, Jeopardy! aired an episode featuring Sunnyvale native Garrett Kuramoto, a Library Manager with the San Mateo County Libraries. In this game show that offers answers in given categories so that contestants can offer the corresponding questions, Kuramoto called out the correct questions for many answers. For example, in the category of “14 Letter Words,” Kuramoto scored $2,000 with the correct question, “What is a septuagenarian?” to the answer, “A person in their seventies.”
During the show, the highest amount Kuramoto made was $7,800 and the final amount he had was $6,001. At the end of the show, Kuramoto placed second and received a $2,000 award.
“It was a lifelong dream of mine to be on the show,” Kuramoto said. “Because of COVID-19, auditions are now done online. There are two parts. The first part is the written test, which anyone can take on the Jeopardy! website. It’s a 50-question test. You have 15 seconds to answer each question.
“The second part is a live online test and audition with a producer and other contestant hopefuls. Only a small percentage of people who pass the written test get chosen to go onto the next phase of the audition.”
According to Kuramoto, he took the written test in January of this year. In June, he received an invitation to participate in the online audition. In early August, he received a call to appear in a show taped later that month at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.
Due to concerns about COVID-19, the show adhered to strict safety protocols.
“You have to wear a mask all the time while you’re there,” Kuramoto said. “The only time you can take off your mask is when you’re on stage and at your contestant lectern. The lecterns have been split up to allow for social distancing among the contestants.”
The weekend after the Nov. 2 show aired, the sad news of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s passing was announced. Kuramoto remembers Trebek, who had pancreatic cancer, as being kind and genuine. Kuramoto recalled that during the process of taping the show, Trebek was in good spirits and that he took the time to chat with the contestants before and after the game.
“I know that hosting the show was something Alex Trebek was passionate about,” Kuramoto said. “To be able to interact with him in a positive way during what was a difficult time in his life is very meaningful to me. The show I was in taped in late August, which was just about two months ago.”
“A video that has recently gone viral regarding Jeopardy! features a man named Burt Thakur who credited Jeopardy! and Alex for inspiring him to learn English,” Kuramoto continued. “It was clearly meaningful to Alex to hear that. I met Burt because his episode was taped on the same day that my episode was taped. It’s special to know that I shared a little part of a day that was probably a good day for Alex.”