Winning $146K On 'Jeopardy!' Was N.H. Woman's Lifelong Dream Come True

Apr 10, 2015

Kerry Greene with Alex Trebek
Credit Courtesy photo

It was quite a run for Kerry Greene of Manchester.

She won six straight games on the quiz show “Jeopardy!”

Her streak came to an end last night, but she walked away winning $146,598.

Her appearances on the show were actually taped back in January, so she’s had to wait until now to share the experience with friends and family.

You come across as so calm and cool on the show, you really do.

That’s what I’ve been hearing online actually, to the extent that someone called me “robotic.”

I don’t get that impression. I just get the impression that you are taking your time and you’re very measured and you seem very confident.

It felt like a job. I had a job to do and I was just going to do it and I wasn’t going to worry about the audience or anything else or the cameras. I just ignored all that and I did the job. But you know, the first game, I was so nervous that I was propped up against the podium. That’s why you can’t see my hands when I’m ringing in because I literally had them leaning on the podium so I wouldn’t shake. I think just kind of worked. I did get a little more comfortable as the games went on, but that worked for me so I wasn’t going to change anything.

Was going on Jeopardy something you’d always hoped to do?

It was. My mother watched the original “Jeopardy!” with Art Fleming in the 1960s. When it came back on in 1984 with Alex Trebek, we started watching it at home as a family. Then I went to college and I watched it with my roommates. Now I’ve watched it with my family. It was a lifelong dream to be on there. I used to feel like it was a pipe dream, but the past few years, I started to feel like I was doing OK playing at home and that I could hold my own.

Talk about how the taping process works for each show.

It’s definitely something they have down to a science. They have a great production staff that is behind the scenes in the green room. Most of the contestants who aren’t local stay at the same hotel early in the morning. There are 10 or 12 people that go over. We all ride the bus over and we all go into the green room. Then they go through this script that covers all of the legal requirements, including the rules of the game and releases. They do makeup on everybody, two at a time. There are two makeup artists. You’re told to come with your hair in place, but they’ll do your makeup for you.

Kerry Greene in the studio with Rick Ganley
Credit Michael Brindley for NHPR

Then they take you out into the studio and they show you how the signaling device works and they have everybody look at how you write on the board at the end and they go through the practice, basically. Then after that, everybody sits in a special section of the audience and they just start calling down contestants. You don’t find out you’re going to be playing that game until right beforehand. They do five episodes a day and tape two days a week. It’s chaotic, to a certain extent. After I won that first game, you literally have about seven minutes in between games.

Were you able to interact at all with the other contestants or Alex Trebek?

Alex does an interview, but before that, during the first break, he comes and takes a picture with each contestant. He really doesn’t say much. But then the interview portion isn’t really scripted. You give them five or six topics he might want to ask about. You don’t know which one he’s going to choose. So you have your little conversation with him and you’re back in the game.

What’s reaction been like back home to your success on the show?

It’s been terrific. Everyone has been wonderfully supportive, including my family, my friends, and my colleagues at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Just people I run into now. I haven’t been recognized by a complete stranger, but that might happen.

You volunteer as a courtroom advocate for children who have been abused or neglected. How did you get involved with that program?

It’s interesting. I went to law school and I practiced law in California for four years, then I had kids, and I stayed home with them for a long time. Sometime when they were in elementary school, I was driving by and I saw a sign for CASA. I remember thinking I could do that and it would make a difference.

You’ve won a lot of money on Jeopardy. Any plans on what to do with it?

We love to travel, so that’s definitely on the radar. My 15-year-old son has suggested some rapidly-escalating cars, in terms of value. We have college funds that need a shot in the arm. We have a house we moved into about 10 years ago, and we’ve renovated all the bathrooms except the largest one. There are many competing demands. Certainly, I’ll be donating some money to CASA. The work they do is great and they’ve given me such personal fulfillment. I’m really grateful for that.