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Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Ypsilanti's Jason Idalski takes a turn on game show Jeopardy!

By Janet Miller

Answer: Jason Idalski.

Question: Who is the latest local whizz to appear on the long-running television game show Jeopardy!?


Jason Idalski

Courtesy photo

Ypsilanti resident and MLive Media Group employee Idalski was boarding a return plane to Detroit this afternoon after taping Jeopardy! at the Culver City, Calif., studio Wednesday. A week’s worth of shows is taped in one day.

While the 30-year-old isn’t allowed to address his results - watch Oct. 8 to see how he did - Idalski is allowed to talk about the experience.

He qualified for the show after taking an online test in January and appearing at an audition in Detroit July 14. After that, it was fast-tracked. He found out Aug. 1 that he would be headed to California Aug. 27. That left little time to prepare, especially since he was an organizer of a Scrabble tournament that was held in early August.

He watched the show on TV, answering the questions standing up and using a pencil as a makeshift buzzer. The only knowledge preparation he did was to study the presidents, an admitted weak area. “I learned them in order, forwards and backwards, along with a few facts about each,” Idalski said. It wasn’t difficult, he said. “There are only 43 of them.” (Grover Cleveland served as Numbers 22 and 24).

Idalzki had a strong knowledge base to begin with: He’s been a trivia hound from an early age and was a quiz bowl champ at Center Line High School.

And, yes, he did get to meet Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. Idalski was impressed. “He is as smart, funny and patient in back of the camera as he is in front of the camera,” Idalski said. “He’s the same guy off the camera and he is on camera.”

Idalski, a 2006 Eastern Michigan University graduate with a triple major in math, economics and journalism, is a Web/mobile producer and SEO specialist at MLive,'s affiliate website. A Warren native, he also worked as a sports writer for

In the end, Idalski didn’t use his new knowledge on the presidents. That’s fine, he said. “It’s good to have that content anyway.”

Idalski joins a list of locals who have found themselves on Jeopardy! Ann Arbor’s Jan Rishoi appeared in late 2012 and Milan’s Stephanie Jass set the record for the number of wins by a female contestant, winning more than $147,000 in the fall of 2012.

Janet Miller is a freelance reporter.


Jenn McKee

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing a familiar face on the show! Congrats, Jason!


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

Unfortunately the taxes paid are immediate, many contestants leave the prizes due to the fact that all prizes are above most retail costs leaving contestants stuck with a huge tax bill many cannot afford to pay. Recent article said many leave or sell off items won to pay Uncle Sam.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

I'm confused - thought only prizes were cash, not "items"?


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

What is SEO?

Jen Eyer

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

Stands for Search Engine Optimization

Jason Idalski

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Thanks, Janet (and Amy and Pete for their support)! Worth noting that October 8, 2012 was Stephanie Jass' first episode. :)

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

Go Jason!


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Oddly enough, a similar thing happened to Ralph Kramden many years ago.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Given Jason's prowess at trivia night, it's not entirely a surprise that he made it to Jeopardy—but completely awesome all the same!