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A Crittenden woman is getting more than her 15 minutes of fame as the current champion of the popular TV game show Jeopardy.
Rani Peffer, a corporate finance manager at Procter and Gamble, is a four-day champion of the show, which taped in September.
“I’ve had a life-long dream to be on Jeopardy since I was a small child and used to watch Jeopardy everyday and play Jeopardy on my computer,” Peffer said. “I always wanted to do it, but never did anything to make it a reality.”
Peffer, who has two children and is married to Sean, a University of Kentucky accounting professor, saw an advertisement for an online Jeopardy test for residents in Cincinnati.
She signed up to take the 50-question test last fall and based on her results, Peffer was invited to an in-person audition in Cincinnati in December 2012.
Peffer joined about 20 others in taking another 50-question test, playing a mock game and participating in a mock interview.
After being given a parting gift of a Jeopardy pen for auditioning, Peffer was told she would be in the contestant pool for up to 18 months.
“I went home and didn’t think about it until in July they called and asked if I could come and tape the show in September,” she said. “So, I did.”
The show is taped in Hollywood at the Sony Pictures Studios.
Before the cameras roll, Peffer played a mock game with easy questions with other contestants to ease her nerves.
“You get to practice with the buzzer,” she said. “You get comfortable with the setting. It was nerve-racking at first, but really fun. By the time I got called up for my game, I wasn’t really nervous. I was so excited. It was a huge adrenaline rush.”
On her first episode, Peffer won the game and $14,311 after being the only contestant to get the final Jeopardy question correct.
With a lead heading into the final question on day two, Peffer used her accounting skills to wager just the right amount of money to finish a dollar in front of her second-place competitor.
A commanding lead on the third day and the fact that no one gave the correct answer to the final question, gave Peffer enough breathing room to win again.
The fourth episode saw Peffer trailing in third place heading to the final round, but she was the only contestant to have the correct answer in the Olympic History final Jeopardy category.
Her four-day total winnings are $56,712.
Audiences got to see more than just Peffer’s intelligence on display, but a little bit of her personality as well during the on-camera banter with legendary host Alex Trebek.
Peffer told about how her husband proposed to her by putting the ring inside a box of French fries from her favorite fast food restaurant.
She also disclosed that, as a numbers fanatic with the personalized license plate “Finance Chick: I Love Numbers,” she married another math whiz, her own college accounting professor.
“He was so much like myself, it was like looking into a mirror,” Peffer joked with Alex. “I couldn’t resist spending the rest of my life with myself.”
Peffer did not get a chance to see Trebek for the first time until he came out from backstage to tape the show.
During the first commercial break, the contestants do get to have their picture taken with the host and they chat with him during the end credits.
“I was giving him a hard time because I thought it was funny to mess with him,” Peffer said. “I joked around with him and he seemed to respond to that. He’s a TV legend. He’s the guy who has all the answers so I’ve always wanted to meet Alex.”
To celebrate being on the show, Peffer held a viewing party for 50 people at her Crittenden home the first night.
A friend had T-shirts made that said “Northern Kentucky’s Jeopardy Champion” on the front and “Who is Rani Peffer?” on the back.
The second night she watched the show with her husband and two children.
On the third night, a meeting caused her to record the episode and watch it later.
“It’s really weird,” Peffer said about watching herself on TV. “Nobody likes to hear themselves talk. I’m enjoying watching it very much because when it happened I was on such an adrenaline rush that I really don’t remember that much about it.”
Jeopardy is not the first television game show Peffer has been on.
She was previously on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? in 2011.
“I was nine months pregnant in 2010 (when the episode was taped) and I saw a promotional site that said they were coming to Newport on the Levee for auditions,” Peffer said. “I thought it would be fun. It just so happened that on a Monday before I was supposed have a C-section on Friday, they were coming. I was already off work for maternity leave, so I showed up at 6 a.m. and got in line. I did that, went home and had a baby four days later.”
Ten days after giving birth, the show called Peffer and asked if she could fly to New York to be on the show the following week.
Less than three weeks after giving birth to her second child, she was competing for a million-dollar prize.
She ended up taking home $14,800.
“I should have taken more chances,” Peffer said, looking back. “I didn’t want to walk away with nothing. I would say I was playing not to lose. What I learned from that experience was that I wanted to play to win.”
The ride on Jeopardy is not over for Peffer.
For the next two weeks, Jeopardy will televise a teacher’s tournament.
However, once the tournament concludes, Peffer will be back on the buzzer for the Nov. 25 episode at 7:30 p.m. on Fox 19 to try to become a five-day champion.
Whenever her streak does end, Peffer said she does not have any big plans for her winnings.
“Realistically, the first thing I’m going to do is cut a big, fat check to the government,” she said. “Both the United States and the state of California will be enjoying a nice chunk of my winnings. Then, after that, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem real to me yet. I think it won’t seem real until I get a check. We don’t live large. I may get a new bicycle. Other than that, we may stock it away and invest it or put it in the college fund. I’m not going to fund a trip to the moon or anything.”
After trying to be a millionaire and going head-to-head with Alex Trebek, what is next for Peffer on the TV show circuit?
“I don’t think they’ll take me for The Bachelorette,” she joked. “And, I wouldn’t last very long on Survivor, so I’m probably done. I think Wheel of Fortune might be fun. I’m pretty good at Wheel of Fortune, but I’ve always been better at Jeopardy. I may be done for awhile, but who knows what game shows will be created in the future.”