Tiffany Eisenhauer of Freeport, seen with host Alex Trebek, will be on “Jeopardy!” Thursday. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

About once a decade, Tiffany Eisenhauer tries out for “Jeopardy!”

She grew up watching the famed quiz show nightly with her family, and tried out the first time just a few years out of high school. She didn’t make it, so about 10 years later, while in nursing school, she spent “every last penny” she had on a bus ticket from upstate New York to Boston for an audition. Again, no luck.

Then, last year, the 45-year-old physician assistant from Freeport took the qualifying test online, and passed. She flew to Los Angeles for a taping in January and will finally get her chance to play the game on TV – instead of in front of one – Thursday. Locally, her “Jeopardy!” debut can be seen on Portland station WMTW at 7:30 p.m.

“The game board is huge and being there on the set can be kind of intimidating,” Eisenhauer said Wednesday. “I tried to just focus on the experience, I didn’t want to waste it being too nervous. I’d tell myself, ‘I’m just here to play the game,’ and that would help me stay calm.”

Eisenhauer is prohibited from saying how she did on the show or what questions she answered. But she said she was struck by “the family atmosphere” of everyone who works on the show, including longtime host Alex Trebek.

She said that Trebek, who is battling pancreatic cancer, obviously loves what he’s doing and was open and friendly with crew, contestants and audience members. She said there was a sense of “poignancy” in how much crew members seemed to care for Trebek as he battles his illness and continues his grueling TV schedule.


“They really all seemed to have an appreciation for one another,” said Eisenhauer, who works at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Eisenhauer brought her own family to the filming, including her husband, son, nephew and her 83-year-old mother.

Just before she left for her own filming, Eisenhauer watched fellow Mainer Dennis Coffey, an Old Orchard Beach bartender, win three games on “Jeopardy!” and take home more than $52,000 in January. She said seeing someone from Maine win was exciting, especially as she was about to get her own chance on the show.

Eisenhauer participates in weekly trivia sessions at Pedro O’Hara’s in Lewiston and had hoped to have a viewing party there. But she’s been heartened by the support from friends and family on social media about her upcoming “Jeopardy!” appearance.

“Maybe we’ll just have a virtual viewing party, talking about it while we watch,” said Eisenhauer.

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