‘Jeopardy!’: Is One Southern City Becoming New Hotbed for Contestants?

by Thad Mitchell
(Photo by Getty Images)

One of the most interesting aspects of the hit quiz show “Jeopardy!” is not the clues, but the people who try to answer them.

Since the beginning, “Jeopardy!” has prided itself on finding the best of the best in terms of intellect. Contestants on the game show come from all over the country to California, where the show is taped. The contestants also from different walks of life and many have interesting stories to share. Ask a “Jeopardy!” fan what their favorite part of the show is, and several are likely to list the “meet the contestants” portion of the show.

During this phase of the show, the host will mosey over to each contestant and ask them to share something about themselves. It is easy to tell from some of their responses that they are indeed some of the smartest and most interesting people in the world. From a contestant that can whistle classical music to another who serves as the White House Easter Bunny wrangler, these are incredibly gifted people.

One particular city, located in the southeast portion of the country, seems to be churning out quality contestants on a regular basis. Memphis, Tennessee, which resides in the western portion of the state, has now put two contestants on the show in as many weeks. While the Bluff City is known for its rich southern heritage, it also developing a reputation for intellectual competitors.

‘Jeopardy!’ Reaches Into Memphis for Contestants

Memphian Verlinda Johnson Henning, a human resources consultant, appeared in two episodes of “Jeopardy!” earlier this month. Fellow Memphian and law student, Trenton J. Woodley, will make his initial appearance on the show this Friday, June 18. Woodley, 31, will look to top Henning’s impressive win in his appearances. Woodley’s “Jeopardy!” episode was filmed earlier this year on March 26. It came toward the beginning of new guest host Savannah Guthrie’s first week on the job.

In an interview with the Independent Appeal, Woodley says appearing on “Jeopardy!” is a life-long dream. He says he began watching the game show in his youth with his grandmother and aunt. he continued watching “Jeopardy!” with his grandmother, the late Shirley Hines, even after he moved out of the house. Woodley says he and his grandmother would watch the show from their respective residential dwellings and then discuss the episode on the phone after it was over.

“We’d usually do a thing where we’d call each other afterward and see if each of us got ‘Final Jeopardy!’ right,” he says of the family tradition.

Woodley certainly falls into the “interesting contestants” category and he hopes to represent Memphis as best he can.

Guthrie will continue on as guest host through next Friday when her final episode is set. Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits in the on-deck circle as the next “Jeopardy!” guest host.