“Jeopardy!” host Mayim Bialik with contestant Heather Brown of South Berwick. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

South Berwick resident Heather Brown achieved a lifelong goal when she got the call to appear on “Jeopardy!” and, on Thursday, the world will be able to watch it play out.

Brown, 35, will face off against Brian Ahern, a user support specialist from Daly City, California, and Yungsheng Wang, a public defender from Los Angeles and the champion from Wednesday night’s show. The pre-recorded episode airs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on ABC.

Appearing on the game show has been a lifelong dream of Brown’s. Many of her childhood memories center around watching the show with her parents in her home state of New Hampshire.

“I’ve been wanting to appear on the show pretty much my entire life,” Brown said Wednesday. “I have a thirst for knowledge. I remember thinking as a kid: ‘I want to know everything.’ ”

Brown has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Smith College in Massachusetts. After graduating, she briefly worked as a bartender before moving to Maine with her now-husband, Matthew Brown. She now works as a civil servant, but wouldn’t be more specific about her job.

Although she’s thought about it for a long time, Brown only began actively trying to appear on the show two years ago. After several attempts, she passed the initial online screening in August and, after a series of screenings and auditions during the winter, was flown out to Los Angeles to film in May.


When preparing for the initial screening and game itself, Brown opted not to study intensely. She felt she had acquired most of the knowledge she needed through her education and by watching “Jeopardy!”

“You either know it or you don’t, and you only have a couple of seconds to type in your answers,” Brown said. “Once I got the call, I brushed up on topics that I knew I wasn’t good at, like sports.”

During her time in Los Angeles, she made quick friends with the other contestants, which helped her feel more comfortable.

“I met everybody when I got there, and we all made our own little group because we were all in it together,” Brown said. “Everyone was really nice. Everybody was really intelligent.”

When the time came for Brown to step up to the podium, she was nervous at first, but the feeling dissipated as she began answering questions.

“I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was so fun,” Brown said. “I just tried to zero-in, focus on the board and pretend I was back at home playing.”


The only notable difficulty she experienced was with the buzzer itself, which required a certain finesse to operate.

“The buzzer was kind of tough. You have to hit it at just the right spot, because if you ring in too soon before the host finishes reading the clue, you get locked out. It’s no joke.” Brown said.

Throughout her experience, Brown said, her husband, also a devoted “Jeopardy!” fan, and her extended family, provided valuable encouragement.

“‘(Matt) always tells people, ‘I always thought I was good at ‘Jeopardy!’ until I met Heather,’ ” Brown said. “My family was thrilled when I got it; they all said they were going to watch the show.”

Brown encourages any would-be “Jeopardy!” contestants or game show fans to try to appear on the program.

“If anybody’s interested in trying out, go for it. The test is free, it’s online,” Brown said. “You never know. You might get the call, and it’s the experience of a lifetime.”

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