A junior from the Ohio State University from Northbrook, Illinois...

Ellen Eichner

Are any of your college rivals here?
No, the only one's really Michigan, and, y'know, it's--good thing they're not here.

How did you react when you were selected for the College Championship?
Um, obviously I was so excited. I managed to keep it together when I was on the phone with the producers, but as soon as I hung up, I jumped up and down and screamed. I was at home, and I think I really scared my dog. He, like, ran into his little house. But he--I'm really excited about it, yeah.

What is your dream category?
Um, anything having to do with pop culture, movies, music, television, anything having to do with that, I would love to see.

Do you think being on Jeopardy! will help you land a job?
Um, I hope so. I'm gonna put it on my resume, and, y'know, hopefully it'll be a conversation point, so...

Where do you hope to be in ten years?
Um, well, I'm gonna go to law school, so maybe I'll be a lawyer. I don't know if I want to practice law, but doing something in the legal or political field is probably what I'll be doing.

2010-B College Championship semifinalist: $10,000 + a Nintendo Wii + the Wii Jeopardy! game.

Ellen Eichner
Ohio State University

November 16, 2010
Hey everyone! I’m back to tell you all about the semifinal games!

The atmosphere on the second day of the filming was much different than the first. We weren’t quite as nervous, and we were all already friends, so it was much more relaxed. We spend the majority of the bus ride and our green room time in the morning discussing our favorite movies, TV shows, and bands. We all seemed to share a similar affinity for ‘Arrested Development’ and were really excited to drive past the Magic Mansion that G.O.B. went to on the show. (We’re nerds. Deal with it.) We played a few more practice games, but I just wasn’t as quick on the buzzer as I had been the previous day. Everyone was really bringing their A-game for semis because there were no wildcard spots.

The atmosphere in the green room was a lot more relaxed during the second day of filming, but I was still a little bit edgy. Since we were all best friends already, we were just chatting and hanging out, and I think we forgot that we were about to be competing against each other later that day. I think it became real to us when they announced the match-up for the first semi-final game. I ended up playing in the second game against Hans and Steve, which I was definitely nervous about, because they had both been incredibly on during practice. (Steve had actually called our match-up earlier in the day… He must by psychic or something.) I had no idea how our game was going to go, but I went into it with optimism and determination, both of which apparently failed me in the end.

Let’s put this clearly: I bombed semis. I’ll admit it. Who wouldn’t? I couldn’t get my buzzer down in the beginning when they had categories about which I actually knew something (i.e. TV and movies), and after that I didn’t know the answers so I didn’t buzz in. Hans and Steve were just too quick! Not only that, but ‘Opera’ is just about the worst Final Jeopardy! category I could have gotten except for maybe ‘The New Testament’ or ‘Geology’. I’m sure you all could see the frustration and disappointment on my face, but I’m not mad about losing. Just like I was destined to have ‘US Presidents’ as my Final Jeopardy! question in my quarterfinal round, this was Hans’ game. It was an undeniable fact that it belonged to him from beginning to end. I was upset for approximately four seconds, and then I was just happy for Hans. I can still say that I won a game of Jeopardy!; maybe I didn’t win the tournament or even make it to finals for that matter, but I’m proud of how I did. And hey- a $10,000 consolation prize is not bad at all!

(Oh, and for those of you who are wondering: I have big plans for my ten grand. The vast majority of it is going to pay for my study abroad trip to London next semester, and hopefully I will get to travel longer in Europe afterwards. Maybe I’ll even get to stay in a hotel one night instead of a hostel! However, I am going to set aside a nice portion of it aside for the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Chicago. I am OBSESSED with Marc Jacobs, and I am finally going to buy one of his purses and maybe a dress too. I can finally afford it!)

Watching the rest of the tournament was a lot of fun. The final games were nail biters, and I thought the twelve of us who had been eliminated were a great cheering section for the three finalists. Mostly, we just laughed a lot and had a lot of fun with Alex; during commercial breaks, he goes and talks to the audience, and we asked him what he was like in college. He proceeded to tell us about a girl he wanted to date and a string of his odd jobs. (During other commercial breaks he told the audience about renovating his pool, his favorite books, and even commented on Will Ferrell’s SNL impersonations of him. Basically, Alex Trebek is awesome.) We even asked him a Jeopardy!-style question, which he got wrong, so we got to give him an "Ooooh, sorry!”. I think he was less than pleased with us at that point, but he’s totally a nice guy, so I’m sure he brushed it off.

Overall, I had an amazing experience on Jeopardy! I literally had the time of my life. I made 14 new amazing friends, won more money than I’ve ever had in my life, crossed a huge item off my life list, and had a 4-day vacation to California. During the second day of finals, Alex said that our group had an ‘amazing esprit de corps’ about us, which we’ve adopted as our unofficial nickname. (It’s the name of our Facebook group… duh.) I miss all of my Jeopardy! kids terribly, and I’ve had so much fun watching everyone on TV! I hope you guys have enjoyed reading my blog entries (and you should read everyone else’s too!) and watching the college tournament!

November 10, 2010
I’m back! And I’m really excited to tell you all about my experience on the show!

I guess I should start from the beginning. On Monday morning, we all met in the lobby of the hotel for the first time, and I was really excited to meet the other contestants. My mom and I had been playing a game the two previous days called "Who else is going to be on Jeopardy!?” where we would try to pick out people in the hotel who looked like they were going to be contestants as well. I went two for four. I managed to pick out Kyle (who rode in an elevator with us) and Erin (who was wearing her BU sweatshirt and was being flanked by about 12 adults who looked like members of her extended family) before I saw them in the lobby on Monday. I also recognized Tim, who had been sitting at the same table as me at our audition in Chicago! Everyone was really nice and didn’t seem overly competitive at all, so I was really happy. We all chatted for a while, posed for some pictures for our embarrassing parents, and then we were on our way!

Arriving on the set was a crazy experience. It was much smaller than I anticipated, but it also looked so much sharper and crisper than what I was used to seeing on television. Immediately we were shooed over to make-up so we could shoot promos and play a practice game. The promos are so so so so so dorky, but hopefully they’ll be funny and entertaining for those of you watching at home. There was a lot of fist-pumping and yelling involved, so if nothing else, the people of the Jersey Shore will enjoy them. I got teased starting at this point and for the rest of the tournament because of the way I say my school’s name: THEEEE Ohio State University. It’s a sports thing and it’s the way everyone at school says it, but I guess no one at the Jeopardy! College Tournament understood that. I sort of enjoyed it; at one point on the bus back to the hotel, the rest of them just all chimed in to say "THEEEE Ohio State University!”, so I guess I taught them how to correctly identify my college.

I was really nervous to play the practice games, especially because I had no idea how I would do with the buzzer. We had a chance to click the buzzer without answering questions, and I could not make it work in my favor. I distinctly remember saying "I am going to fail Jeopardy!”, but once I got into the practice game with real questions, it started to get better. Since the questions were easier and the atmosphere of the practice game was fairly relaxed, I didn’t know how I would actually fare in the real game.

After we shot all the promos and played our practice games, we all had to sit in the green room and wait. Waiting in the green room was more grueling than being on the show. We watched a few movies and chatted, but every time more names were called and there were still some of us waiting in there, the level of anxiety increased. I played in the Wednesday show, and when they finally called my name, I was nervous and excited, but I was really just happy to be getting out of there. I was nervous to be matched up against Kyle and Folake, but I said a quick prayer, reapplied my lipstick, and got ready to go.

November 5, 2010
Hi everyone out there on the Internet reading the Jeopardy! blog! My name is Ellen Eichner, and I am really excited to a contestant in the 2010 College Tournament. I’ve been watching Jeopardy! basically since I was in the womb, so actually getting to appear on the show is a dream come true for me. One of my earliest memories of Jeopardy! was watching the Kids tournament with my brother one day after school, and there was a little girl on there who was maybe 9 or 10 years old, and she told Alex that she liked to write essays for fun. I am not joking. Since my brother and I still reference the fact that basically no one likes to write essays for fun, and that most essays are the opposite of fun, I’m going to try to keep this light hearted, and not like an essay at all. I promise.

First of all, I’m a junior at THE Ohio State University, double-majoring in Political Science and Communication. I love going to school at Ohio State; I literally could not or would not want to go to college anywhere else. But even though I go to school in Columbus, I’m still very much a Chicago girl. If you’ve been watching the show, you know I have the accent to prove it. I’m from Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb that’s about 20 miles north of the city, which is where you’ll find me when Ohio State is not in session. I live with my parents, my younger brother Michael, and our adorable dog Farfel. I’m a Glenbrook North High School alum (go Spartans!), but I think I was always meant to be a Buckeye. I like to think that I’m a fairly average college student. I hang out with my friends, go to the occasional party, and cheer on my Buckeyes at football games. I also have an intense passion for pop culture; I love movies, music, television, theatre, celebrities- you name it. If it happens in the entertainment world, I probably know about it. When I have the time, I love to read books that aren’t textbooks; Dave Eggers paperbacks and The New Yorker are two of my major vices. I’m a huge Broadway fan, and I like to go to shows as often as possible; my favorite is Spring Awakening, which I’ve seen twice. I love fashion and going shopping, and it’s totally hazardous to my bank account that there’s an Urban Outfitters right on High Street. I have a particular soft spot for knee-length dresses, designer purses, and super soft vintage-esque tees. I also spend way too much time on my Blackberry and social media online; I’m addicted to both Facebook and Twitter, and I even write a blog. I’ve always really liked writing (but no essays for fun, I promise), and once I realized that I’m actually a pretty horrible fiction writer, I needed a new outlet for it. One of my friends from school convinced me to start blogging almost a year and a half ago, and while almost no one outside of my group of friends reads it, it’s still pretty fun for me. If any of y’all want to check it out, the address is elleneichner.tumblr.com.

When I’m at school, I spend a lot of time focusing on my schoolwork, but I’m also mainly involved in two organizations on campus: Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB) and Honors Ambassadors. OUAB is Ohio State’s programming board, so we bring a lot of really great performers to campus for the students to enjoy. In my year on OUAB I’ve gotten to meet Andy Samberg, James Cameron, and David Sedaris, not to mention see Drake, Conan O’Brien, Maya Angelou, and Zach Braff lecture or perform. I also really like event planning, so it’s a lot of fun. Honors Ambassadors is great too; we represent the Honors program at Ohio State to prospective students and their families, and try to convince them to come to Ohio State. I remember talking to Honors Ambassadors when I was a prospective student (wayyyyy back in the day), so it’s fun for me to be on the other side of the equation now. I also take elective dance classes through the university, which is really fun. I haven’t been dancing very long, nor do I think I’m a gifted dancer, but I think I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t look like a total idiot. If that’s not improvement, I don’t know what is. I’m actually planning on spending the majority of this school year studying abroad in London. I’ve always liked traveling, and when I went to London during my freshman year, I fell in love with the city and knew I needed to spend more time there. I’m going to miss Ohio State, but I know that exploring London is going to be amazing.

After college, I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with my life; after my parents saw how expensive my braces were, they wanted me to become an orthodontist, but I think that dream died about an hour into my first political science class in high school. Since then, I’ve known that I want to go to law school after I graduate from Ohio State, but I haven’t chosen a clear career path yet. Right now I’m leaning towards intellectual property or media law, because it combines both fields I am studying. I also might ditch the lawyer route all together and become a political speechwriter or consultant, or maybe even work for a political or news show on television. So as of right now, it’s pretty much up in the air.

I thought that before you watch me on the show, I should tell y’all a little bit about what it was like to actually audition for the show. It started for me in January; I randomly happened to be watching Jeopardy! one night, and during the commercial break, there was an ad to try out for the college tournament. Since being on Jeopardy! has always been on my “Life List”, I thought to myself, “Why not?” I figured that I would just try my luck at the online test, probably fail, and that would be that. When the time came to actually take the test, I knew I had gotten a majority of the questions correct, but I didn’t think anything was going to come of it. That was, until I got an email from the producers in April saying that they’d like me for an in-person audition. That was absolutely the coolest thing in the world to me. Luckily, my audition was in Chicago, so it became an excellent excuse to fly home for Mother’s Day weekend.

The time came for my audition and my mom dropped me off at the hotel where it was being held (which just happened to be the hotel at which my parents got married… interesting coincidence). I was incredibly crazy nervous, and I’m pretty sure both my hands and voice were shaking the entire time. I found out there were two other kids from Ohio State there, neither of whom I had ever seen before in my life. I guess that’s what happens when you go to a big school. There were maybe about twenty-five of us there, and I immediately sensed that everyone in this room was more qualified to be on the show than I was. That’s why finding out that I was actually going to be on the show was a huge shock to me: because in my opinion, I completely BOMBED my interview. I’ve had good interviews and bad interviews, and this was definitely a bad one. But I’m getting ahead of myself; perhaps what set the tone for my audition was that before we even got started with the test or the practice game, one of the producers was just having us do sample questions, which we answered by raising our hands. Being extraordinarily nervous and intensely eager to please, when I knew the answer to a question, I raised my hand with such force, vigor, and speed (think Hermione Granger) that I knocked my glasses square off my face. I couldn’t see anything, the room was dark, and I wasn’t about to go crawling around on the floor looking for them, so I sat there sort of squinting until one of the producers literally had to stop the whole process to ask if I was okay. Extraordinarily embarrassed, I admitted that I had lost my glasses, and the girl sitting behind me had to pick them up for me. Neat.

The rest of the interview sort of flew by. We did a trivia test, played a little mock game of Jeopardy! (with the buzzers and everything), and did a personality interview. I was the very first person to do my interview, so I hadn’t had time to gage the room or anyone else’s responses. I was nervous, and I tried to be as genuine as possible, but as everyone else went, their interviews were just so much better than mine. I definitely hadn’t done as well as some of these other kids, but I walked out of my interview feeling proud that I had been picked to be there. The producers said that they would call us ONLY if we had been picked to be on the show, and if we hadn’t heard from them by September, we probably hadn’t made the cut and were welcome to audition again.

After the interview was over, I knew I was never going to get on the show, so I sort of just forgot about it. I got wrapped up in the end of the school year and my summer job, and by the time September 1st came around, I had just accepted that my television dreams were over. Which is why I was so surprised to have a voicemail on my phone from Maggie, one of the Jeopardy! producers, two days before I was supposed to come back to Ohio State to start school. I was doing laundry, and I ran down to the basement to switch the load, and had left my Blackberry sitting in the family room. I couldn’t have been gone more than 10 minutes, but when I came back upstairs, I had a voicemail from an unknown number that was something along the lines of, “Hi Ellen, this is Maggie, I’m a producer from Jeopardy!, and if you could just give me a call back, that would be great!” Since they had said at the interview that they wouldn’t call unless we got on the show, I knew this was a good sign. Regardless, I couldn’t believe it. I kept redialing her number until I actually got her on the phone, and after confirming that I was actually eligible to be on the show, she offered me a spot in the College tournament. I literally could not believe it. I managed to keep it together while I was still on the phone with her, but once we hung up, I jumped up and down and screamed so loud that I scared my dog Farfel and he started barking at me. The first person I called was my mom, but I was talking so fast/ screaming/ crying/ shaking that it took me saying “I AM GOING TO BE ON JEOPARDY!” four times before she could actually understand what I was saying. She was thrilled, and I hung up with her and proceeded to call my dad, brother, and all of my best friends to tell them that I had somehow managed to make it onto Jeopardy!

Everyone I’ve told has been thrilled and very excited, and I do not want to disappoint them! I’m going to do my best, but I still can’t really fathom that I’m actually going to be on the show. I understand the concept of going out to Los Angeles to be on Jeopardy!, but in my mind that more consists of me going to Pinkberry and In-And-Out Burger, hanging out in LA with my mom, and walking around the Sony lot in my sweet Ohio State sweatshirt. I don’t think it’ll actually be real to me until I have that buzzer in my hand and Alex Trebek is standing four feet away from me. I have no idea how I’m going to fare in the tournament, but regardless, I’m very excited to be here! Wish me luck, and I’ll be back in later to let you know how everything plays out!

Ellen appeared in the following 2 archived games:
#6022, aired 2010-11-16 Steve Greene vs. Ellen Eichner vs. Hans von Walter 2010-B College Championship semifinal game 2.
#6018, aired 2010-11-10 Folake Dosu vs. Ellen Eichner vs. Kyle Kahan 2010-B College Championship quarterfinal game 3.

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