Sanford School junior Lily Allingham is a talented young woman. She sings, she dances, she is whip smart. It turns out the Wilmington native is also quite a history buff too – and an expert on pop culture, politics, science, sports … you get the picture. Exactly the qualities that would make her a great contestant on the legendary television quiz show Jeopardy!
And compete on Jeopardy! is just what Allingham did, quite nicely indeed, recently making it through several rounds of the high school championship that aired in November. Allingham was the first alternate for the finals, having missed making the championship round by one Final Jeopardy question.
TownSquareDelaware: How did you get on the show to begin with?
Lily Allingham: I decided to try out over Christmas break last year when my brother showed me that the Jeopardy website had online tests. I did well on the practice test so I decided to take the real one for the Teen Tournament. After I took it, my score was high enough that they called me to do an interview in New York City, and about a month after that they asked me to be on the show.
TSD: How would you describe the process? Demanding? Tough? Intense? Fun? Walk us through what happens en route to appearing on the show?
LA: I thought the process was just so fun. I had the best time in Washington, DC, filming the episodes and meeting the other kids. Before the episodes they did our hair and makeup and then we waited in a greenroom above the stage until our game came up. They film five shows a day so it was a really crazy day but I had the best time.
TSD: What was your favorite category? … the toughest?
LA: My favorite categories were the pop culture and music ones and my least favorites were definitely geography-related questions.
TSD: It always looks like the buzzer can be tricky to operate – did you have any problems clicking in? And are there any “tricks” to being a good contestant on Jeopardy?
LA: The buzzer is really tough! I think it’s the hardest part of the game. You have to hit the button exactly at the right time or you’ll be locked out. A good trick is to watch the lights they have on the side of the board and buzz when they go on.
TSD: Did you meet any other fun and interesting kids along the way?
LA: I definitely did! All the kids in the tournament were great and we still talk. I have a group chat with them.
TSD: You wrapped up filming this past summer, but your shows didn’t air until November. Was it difficult to keep your performance a secret?
LA: It was really hard! My family knew but I couldn’t tell any of my friends which was super difficult for me especially since they asked me quite a few times.
TSD: Can we expect to see you on college Jeopardy and adult Jeopardy in the future?
LA: I actually can’t go on Jeopardy again until the host Alex Trebek retires so it could be a while. But I would love to be on it again if I could.
TSD: Any advice for other kids who think they have what it takes to be on Jeopardy?
LA: I would say take the test as many times as you can because if you don’t get on the first time you could still be chosen the next year. If you are chosen, definitely work on using a buzzer! I would definitely recommend trying out though, because it was one of the best experiences of my life.