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June 17, 2014

Meadville high grad's long awaited Jeopardy! appearance is tonight

A Meadville Area Senior High School graduate will appear on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Paige J. (Junker) Ormiston, MASH Class of 1995, said she has watched the show for nearly 30 years. And not until longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek walked onstage did the nerves really get to her.

“I was too excited to be really nervous until Alex Trebek walked onstage,” Ormiston said. “I’ve been watching the show with my parents, then college roommates, and now my husband for almost 30 years, so I was really excited to get to meet him.”

In January 2013, Ormiston — the daughter of Chris and Donna Junker, who reside in Meadville — took the online test and did well enough to be invited to try out in person. The producers do a road show of 12 to 15 cities around the country every year, she said, and she traveled to Niagara Falls to try out in April 2013.

At the tryout, she took another timed test, then was able to play the game with the other prospective contestants. The producers bring the real buzzers and set up the game board in a hotel ballroom, and everyone gets to play for about five minutes.

The producers then perform a contestant interview, and those who test well and do well both answering questions and interacting with the producers on camera are placed in a pool.

Ormiston, who turned 37 last Thursday, found out in January that she would compete on Feb. 19. She was selected for the second of five episodes filmed on Feb. 19.

Each episode takes about 40 minutes to film, Ormiston said, but the contestants were able to talk to each other once the filming day was done.

“Some of them had been trying to get on for years,” Ormiston said. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was to make it on the first time I tried out.”

Ormiston and her husband, Wiley, watched Jeopardy! every night once she found out in January that she was in the contestant pool. In college, she double majored in biology and general science and said she loves to read for pleasure.

“I have an uncanny ability to remember totally useless facts but not stuff that I actually need for everyday life,” she said.

On the plane to Los Angeles, Ormiston said she read the 2014 World Almanac almost cover to cover.

“There are two questions I got right because of that last minute cram/review session,” Ormiston said. “My husband is also a big trivia nerd and was a big help to me as I was prepping.”

Ormiston said her husband is the only one who knows exactly how she did.

“The show doesn’t mail the check for your winnings until 120 days after your episode airs, so if you let the cat out of the bag, you don’t get paid,” Ormiston said. “I’d love to tell you, but no way am I forfeiting my prize money.”

Third place gets $1,000, second place collects $2,000, and winner keeps whatever he/she wins.

Ormiston is the deputy force judge advocate for Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT) in Norfolk, Va. She’s been a Navy JAG for 11 years. Right now, Ormiston’s job is similar to being in-house counsel for a large company, she said. AIRLANT’s mission is to man, train and equip the east coast Naval Air Forces.

“I’m good at keeping secrets — it’s a job requirement for what I do — but keeping this one has been really hard,” she said

The Ormistons live in Norfolk with two sons — 3-year-old Thomas and 1-year-old Henry.

As for watching herself on broadcast television tonight?

“It will be great to have the results out there so I don’t have to worry about slipping up and saying how I did, but I don’t like hearing my voice on voicemail, so watching 30 minutes of myself on TV will be a little uncomfortable,” Ormiston said. “I had a wonderful time playing the game — I hope that shows up on screen. I am really competitive, so I’m a bit worried that the fact that I’m having a great time won’t come across.”

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