A graduate student and musician from Vancouver, Washington...

Rebecca Dixon

Hi Portland! I'm Rebecca Dixon from Vancouver. Watch and see if I can hold down the fort, on Jeopardy!

Season 26 2-time champion: $53,002 + $1,000.

Rebecca and her partner beat the Beast and won $32,500 on The Chase along with her opponent on 2015-08-06.
Rebecca won $1,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on 2012-03-05.

Rebecca Dixon - A Graduate Student and Musician
Vancouver, Washington

February 16, 2010

BACKGROUND: I'm Rebecca Dixon, a graduate student and musician from Vancouver, Washington. I graduated from James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Virginia) in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Oboe Performance. I then completed a year of graduate study in Historical Musicology at the University of Pittsburgh. After realizing that musicology wasn't right for me, I decided to take a yearlong leave of absence from school this year. I am using the time to study oboe privately again, get more playing experience, and audition at other graduate schools with the goal of hopefully earning a Master of Music degree in Oboe Performance. My dream job (other than Professional Game Show Contestant, as I often joke) is to play in an orchestra and get paid for it.

Being a Jeopardy! champion has been one of my life goals since I was at least a teenager. As a kid, I remember playing an old Jeopardy! video game on a Commodore 64 computer and playing a board game version with colored paper money. However, I don't think I watched the show regularly and seriously until my teen years. When I was 18, during my freshman year of college, I signed up for a Jeopardy! audition in Washington, D.C. in February 2005. When I got to the audition (this was in the Pre-Online Test era), it looked like I was possibly the youngest person there, and I felt like a lightweight. After the test, the coordinators announced those who had passed-just a handful of people passed out of the scores of hopefuls. I was not one of them. I wasn't really surprised, but I was happy to see how the audition worked and get the experience for the future.
I decided to try again later in my college career after the online test was implemented. In 2006, though, I had made an appearance in contestant's row on "The Price is Right," and therefore was ineligible to take the Jeopardy! test within one year of that appearance. I tried again in January 2008, when I was a senior. I felt a lot better about my performance on the test, but I knew I was probably just a few shades off from passing. Alas, I didn't get chosen for an in-person audition.

I tried again in January 2009, during my first year of grad school. Though still young, I felt like my chances were continually getting better. I felt much more confident about my performance on the online test, but I thought I was probably right on the bubble. I was happy, but not holding my breath by any means. I had mostly forgotten about it until I got the email in March inviting me to an audition in D.C. in June! I didn't really do too much to prepare aside from watching every episode, playing along, and keeping track of which questions I answered correctly, incorrectly, or omitted. I did know what some of my especially deficient topics were, so I got some basic study guides on Shakespeare, Mythology, and European History. The weekend before my audition, I was going on vacation up to British Columbia with a friend, so I used a six-hour train ride to read those study guides. When audition day finally came, I thought it generally went well, although afterwards I kept mentally beating myself up about the fact that I had to be reminded to select the next category and dollar amount after a correct response in the mock game. I knew that the contestant coordinators were looking for people who played the game well and could keep the pace moving, so I thought that that could have been a point against me. Regardless, I thought I still had a good chance, but wasn't holding my breath again.

Just about five months later, on November 5, I got the call from Corina! I was going to be taped December 2, less than a month away! Once again, I tried not to do anything outside of my normal Jeopardy! routine. I think the single most helpful thing was playing along at home and trying to replicate a real game situation as much as possible, including getting the timing on the signaling device (I practiced with the souvenir Jeopardy! click pen from the audition), practicing calling out the next category and dollar amount after a correct response, and developing my sense of knowing when to not push the signal if I absolutely didn't know it.

FIRST SHOW: On the day of taping, most of the contestants met up in the hotel lobby and rode the shuttle to the Sony lot together. Many people were doing a bit of chatting, but I tried to kind of lay low as much as possible, collect my thoughts, and start focusing. After lots of time in the green room, Maggie's awesome pep talk, and makeup (the makeup artists were so sweet!), we got to go on stage for the morning rehearsal. I was really pleased at how much rehearsal we got-all of the crew seemed to make sure that all of us contestants were very comfortable up there on stage. I was feeling more confident every minute. The first two games went by and I was still sitting up in the audience. None of the contestants on either of those shows got the Final Jeopardy! question correct (nor did I in my head), and I thought that maybe this was going to be a day of all brutal Finals. So far the winners of the first two shows had won with relatively lower, four-figure amounts. Then, I was called to get ready for the third show. We drew numbers for our podium placement, and I got 3, the end. I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but once I got up there, I kind of liked it. I felt like I had more space out there and a good view of the board. When the categories came up for the Jeopardy! round, I was stoked. The very first category was "Musical Instruments." I knew that was a good sign. When we were playing that category, I was dying to get in on every one, but the other contestants were beating me on the signaling device. I thought, "This is one of my dream categories, and I can't get in on any of them!" Finally, on the $1,000 clue someone gave an incorrect response in regard to Pablo Casals's instrument, and I immediately jumped all over it with, "What is cello?" I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I didn't get on the board with at least one from that category!

Luckily another category was "The Songs of Brian Wilson," and I had listened to a lot of Beach Boys songs as I kid. I knew them all, and got in first on three of them. Things were generally going well, but one of the responses I was most proud of was in "10-Letter 'W'ords." I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but when I said, "What is wanderlust?" the correct German pronunciation came out. I knew my mom in the audience, who studied German, would be thrilled. German is the next language I plan to learn, and my mom has been on my case to read this teach-yourself-German book she got me. (Thanks Mom!) Anyway, I thought if I could pronounce that correctly, she might not bug me about reading that book for a while!

Before I knew it, we had already cruised through both rounds. I looked up at the scores, and I was in the lead with $16,800! The Final Jeopardy! category: 19th Century Artists. I felt good. I took a year of Art History in undergrad, so I felt confident that I could come up with the right response. The next closest contestant was Matt with $14,200. My wagering strategy was to assume he would double his score, so I had to wager more than $11,600. I thought adding $1 was so cliche, so I added $2 to it. Once I saw the painting and the clue, I was about 98% sure I knew it. I wrote down, "Who was Cezanne?" pretty quickly, and didn't second-guess myself. (Although, as someone who speaks French, I'm still beating myself up about not putting the accent aigu on the first "e." I've always been my own worst critic.) As James and Matt each had their responses revealed, and they were both incorrect, that 2% of doubt was shrinking. I think Alex was toying with me a bit, but when he said I was correct, I freaked out! People who are very close to me know that I rarely ever cry, but I couldn't contain myself. In all humility, being a Jeopardy! champion was the number one thing I wanted to do before I die. No joke. That was a moment I had been hoping, wishing, dreaming, and praying for for a long time, and it felt more incredible than I imagined.

SECOND SHOW: After a lunch break, we came back for the final two shows of the day. We had still more rehearsal, then got into the fourth show of the day. I felt a bit more relaxed, and so I took a few more chances than in my first game. Honestly, I can't be certain of which categories were in my second game or in my third game later. I know I had faced two categories dealing with bodies of water in back-to-back games, and I think in the second game was "Go With the Flow." I felt pretty good about that category, as I generally tend to do well with Geography, but I mixed up Biscayne Bay and the Bay of Biscay. I knew the moment I said it that I had mixed it up. I knew I had to stay focused though, and before I knew it, it was time for Final Jeopardy! I was just $200 behind Francie, who played a very commendable game I might add. The category was Pro Sports. I figured that I probably know a bit more about sports than the average female (it helps having a sports-obsessed older brother), so I went pretty big: $12,000 out of a possible $12,600. Although being behind, I wasn't sure my wager would be enough. Once I saw the clue and saw the number 755, I knew it was Hank Aaron. I made sure I wrote my response down quickly and cleanly, and pretty soon Alex had said that I had gotten it correct. Still, Francie could beat me if she got it correct and wagered enough. When her answer was revealed and I saw that it wasn't Hank Aaron, I knew I had just become a two-day champion!

THIRD SHOW: Time for my third game, the final show of the day, although there would be a two-week break between the previous show and this one due to the College Championship. The funny thing about this game was that one of my challengers, Yevgeny, was from my same audition group in D.C. Not only that, but we had played our mock game in the audition together! I thought, "What are the odds?" During the third game, I was even more relaxed and perhaps careless than in the previous two games. I felt less pressure. Before I knew it, I was dipping down into the red! I knew people came back from negative territory all the time, so I kept going. During this game, I got my second geographical, water-related category with "Islands in the Stream." There was a clue about Lewis and Clark, and I signaled thinking that I was pretty sure it was the Columbia, but I wanted to be completely sure before I said it. My hometown is on the Columbia, and if I got it wrong I knew I could never show my face around town again! I finally got it in at the last second. Whew! That could have been embarrassing! When it came time for Final, I had at least caught up enough to possibly make a move for second place. Then "Washington, D.C." came up as the category. I knew we would all get it. Gillian was from Northern Virginia, and Yevgeny and I both auditioned in D.C., so I was confident we would all know it. Since Yevgeny had a run-away game, the only thing I could do was bet it all, and hope maybe Gillian would wager a small enough amount that I could move into second. We all knew it was the Supreme Court, and I ended up in third. I was mildly relieved that I wouldn't have to go back down to L.A. the next week, but of course I would have loved to have been a three-day (or more) champion. In the back of my mind, I knew that even before the game started, Yevgeny would probably be the one to beat me. I thought it was so uncanny that we had played against each other in our audition, and now we were playing against each other in the real thing! He played a great game, and I'll be cheering for him in the next show.

FINAL THOUGHTS: During my first two shows, I wore some ridiculous 4-inch heels that I knew would make my best friend proud, since she thinks I'm crazy for being a short person who wears flats all the time. I had no idea that Alex would even notice them, let alone comment about them! After I lost the third game (in flats), Alex joked that the reason I lost was because I wasn't wearing my stilettos-my knowledge must have been running up that 4-inch spike!

My day on Jeopardy! was literally a dream come true. Ultimately, I viewed it as a performance, no different than if I was getting on stage with my oboe, and I think that definitely helped. I am still so impressed with how amazing the whole crew is. They really make you feel like a superstar! Thank you to each and every one of you, and congratulations to all the contestants that day-you were terrific and I couldn't have asked for a better group with whom to spend the day.

Rebecca appeared in the following 3 archived games:
#5856, aired 2010-02-15 Rebecca Dixon vs. Gillian Mabrey vs. Yevgeny Shrago
#5845, aired 2010-01-29 Rebecca Dixon vs. Francie Futterman vs. Jordan Piel
#5844, aired 2010-01-28 James Poulos vs. Matt Perez vs. Rebecca Dixon

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