Reading Resident Rebecca Bailey Appeared on Jeopardy

Rebecca Bailey, the Reading Librarian Jeopardy Contestant – Photo by Kenan Cooper

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Reading, MA — Reading Public Library’s own Rebecca Bailey was a contestant on Jeopardy! last week after going out on a limb to take the entry test. While Bailey did not win her episode, her trip to Los Angeles has been nothing short of rewarding.

Bailey has lived in Reading since 2011 with her husband and young daughter. She formerly worked at Northeastern University’s library full time doing reference and instruction for students with questions about research. 

Jeopardy Host Ken Jennings and Rebecca Bailey

After having her daughter, Bailey reduced her hours to part-time at Northeastern and began work as a substitute at the Reading Public Library in 2018. She later became a part-time librarian at the Research and Reader Services Desk, helping readers find what they’re looking for and recommending new books.

Bailey sort of “fell into” her spot on Jeopardy! – after being curious about the entry test. She hadn’t watched the show in a while, but once Alex Trebek died, she was intrigued about who the new host would be. Jeopardy! occasionally advertises for viewers to take the online test, and Bailey was curious about how she might fare.

As a regular trivia-quiz taker, Bailey has a reliable memory for facts. Bailey has exercised her natural affinity for remembering information by doing crossword puzzles and online trivia games. She took the 50-question Jeopardy! Anytime Test in April 2022, and heard about a callback early into that summer.

She learned quickly that success on Jeopardy! has more to do with recall than smarts. She was prompted to participate in another test over Zoom with around 25 other contestants. Similar to the online format, the questions are fast-paced and cover a variety of categories – this time with Jeopardy! producers directly facilitating the quiz.

In the fall, Bailey was asked back for a more formal audition over Zoom. This meant mock gameplay for half a board worth of questions but an additional interview process. The producer asked questions about each contestant participating about their lives and interests to get a better understanding of what their television personalities may be like.

Following her audition, Bailey was notified that she was part of the Jeopardy! contestant pool. Despite the typical 18-month window within which contestants may or may not hear about their candidacy, Bailey heard she had the opportunity to participate in a show taping in early 2023.

Early in February, Bailey flew out to Los Angeles for the taping. Before taping begins, contestants are able to get into the studio before their audience to get a feel for the stage. She waited to be called for her episode because the Jeopardy! crew work hard to tape a weeks-worth of episodes in a day. Bailey was called for the fourth episode of the day, and taping only takes about as long as an actual episode.

Her episode aired April 27 and was leading in her episode until the final question. She played a generally conservative game – being careful to buzz in only when she was confident that she knew the answer. The final question, which is the luck of the draw, simply wasn’t a fact that Bailey had known.

The opportunity was nothing short of rewarding, however. “It was a one-time thing, and it was amazing,” said Bailey. “It was way out of my comfort zone, and I’m really glad that I did it, and it’ll be out there as a really awesome story.”

“One of the coolest things about it was meeting the other contestants and getting to kind of connect with these other trivia nerds, and they were just a really interesting bunch of people.”

“I had so much fun doing it that day, and it was kind of this perfect day, and the contestants I was on with were a great group of people, and it was just kind of a great experience.”

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