July 17, 2024 Donate

Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Saline

Chelsea Resident Competes on Jeopardy!

By Natalie Davies

Chelsea’s Connor Townsend competed on Jeopardy! on June 12.

Townsend, an attorney, and head of legal for Duetto, graduated from Chelsea in 2011.

“I was proud to have Jeopardy introduce me as being from Chelsea,” Townsend said. “I live in Detroit now, but wanted to make sure the show said Chelsea. I’m glad I could shout out our town on national television.”

Townsend has been interested in trivia his entire life. He started watching Jeopardy! in middle school and has rarely missed an episode since. He competed in quiz bowl when he was younger and now enjoys competing in bar trivia.

“My parents always encouraged and championed learning, so I think that’s what fueled my curiosity and interest in trivia,” Townsend said.

Townsend started the process of signing up years ago and found out he would compete in the show in March.

“I was actually in a Board Meeting when I got the call,” Townsend said. “I had to let it go. I didn’t think anything of it because it was a random Los Angeles number that I figured was spam. Then I saw the voicemail transcript and couldn’t wait for the meeting to wrap so I could call back. It was pretty exciting.”

To sign up for Jeopardy!, prospective contestants must do well on a 50-question online test, which Townsend said he took multiple times. Once prospective contestants pass the first round, they take a Zoom-monitored online take.

“If you do well enough on that, and get selected to advance, you get a Zoom interview where you play a simulated game and give an anecdote,” Townsend said. “If you show well in that setting, they put you on a list to eventually be called to be on the show. However, you never receive confirmation that you’ve advanced to the next stage. They say you can stay in their system for 12-18 months. If at any point you advance to a stage, then don’t hear back in over 18 months, you should start over again with the online test.”

Once Jeopardy! selected Townsend, he tried to rewatch every episode since 2014, as he said topics often repeat. Sporcle quizzes and big trivia books also helped, along with his sister and his wife quizzing him daily.

“It was just all hands on deck as a family, and it’s always been that way,” Townsend said. “I’m blessed.”

Townsend said his time on set was a blur.

“The production company is a well-oiled machine, and from the minute you get on set until the day is over, there’s hardly any time that is not working on the final product that airs,” Townsend said. “Everyone on the Jeopardy! team is incredibly nice but also great at their job. They take the prestige of the show seriously. When it’s your turn to compete, the game flies by.”

Townsend said to be good at Jeopardy! contestants must be good at the buzzer.

“Everyone that makes it to the show is really smart,” Townsend said. “A lot of the outcome is determined by who is best on the buzzer. In my game, I was easily the slowest or worst at timing the buzzer compared to Adrianna and Enzo (the other contestants on June 12), and that showed in the end.”

Jeopardy host Ken Jennings (L) and Conner Townsend. Photo provided by Conner Townsend

Townsend now has a greater appreciation of the show.

“I learned not to laugh at or question any contestant you’re watching on TV that misses an “easy” question or draws a blank,” Townsend said. “It’s hard up on stage and in front of the lights. I definitely watch others on the show with a deeper understanding of the challenges the audience at home doesn’t see.”

Townsend is thankful for the support from coaches and teachers throughout his childhood who inspired and helped him to get to where he is today.

“I think Chelsea does a great job supporting all the different passions and hobbies kids in the community pursue, whether it’s sports, arts, etc., and it shows,” Townsend said. “I always had great coaches and teachers in Chelsea.”