The stress of going on Jeopardy! has to be unparalleled. Not only are contestants required to think quickly on their feet, but they have to buzz in first. And don't forget to answer in the form of a question. Add to that being on national television, possibly for the first time, and it has the potential to be a real mess.
Final Jeopardy! adds an extra layer of math to the, well, equation. Contestants need to quickly figure out what to wager so they don't lose, even if they answer incorrectly. How do they arrive at the perfect amount of money? Do Jeopardy! contestants get calculators during Final Jeopardy!? We sure hope so.
Do contestants get calculators during Final Jeopardy!?
Thankfully, Reddit came to the rescue as several people weighed in on what happens. In fact, a few former contestants even snuck in. About their time on the show, Reddit user DispoDiva said, "You pretty much have as long as you need to decide on your Final Jeopardy! wager and you're allowed scrap paper, but not a calculator. The scores are displayed the whole game to the left of the board, above where they show the picture clues."
A scrap of paper doesn't sound like enough for us mere mortals!
Apparently FireFinger had a different experience during their time on Jeopardy!. "When I was on, staffers came out and asked what we wanted to accomplish with the wager, and then calculated for us as to how much we wanted to wind up with."
Jennifer Linde, who competed on Jeopardy! in two episodes that aired in January 2021, chimed in and said, "Wow! When was this? We got nothing like that in late 2020, just paper and pen."
"From where they [contestants] stand, there is a scoreboard in their direct line of sight just to the left of the gameboard itself. (The speed of mental math, however, is still entirely in their hands.)."
It kind of sounds like they have nothing available but their eyes and their wits, in true Jeopardy! form.
There are more than a few hidden gems on 'Jeopardy!'.
The blog also revealed some more Jeopardy! secrets that the viewers don't have access to. Evidently each podium has its own riser so that the contestants, who inevitably vary in height, all appear to be the same size. What a great way to literally level the playing field.
The buzzer seems to be particularly sensitive. Luckily for the players, signal lights around the gameboard light up when it's time to buzz in. However, if they hit the button even a hint too early, they will get locked out for a quarter of a second, just long enough for someone else to buzz in.
Despite the fact that the world appears to mostly be controlled by technology, there are some things on Jeopardy! that the humans take care of. Once a contestant chooses a clue on the gameboard, an actual human being manually reveals the clue itself.
And finally, move over Batman, because a new phone is in town. The judges have a red phone at their table which can be used to quickly contact the researchers in the event that a response comes under fire. Holy Jeopardy! secrets, Batman!