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'Jeopardy!' a 'fun, neat experience' for SC grad

Cary Ashby • Updated Apr 27, 2017 at 1:02 AM

Emmett Robinson doesn’t watch a lot of movies.

So when the Final Jeopardy category was “actresses” for his second night on “Jeopardy!,” the 2003 South Central High School graduate knew it would be a challenge.

“When that category came up, I looked out at my family and I rolled my eyes,” Robinson said. “I knew it was a weak one for me.”

But on the other hand, the former Greenwich resident knew he had to make a significant risk to possibly win the game. Robinson said his wager had to be “a lot of money” because he figured another contestant would answer correctly. 

“I thought he was going to get it, so I had to risk enough to beat him,” he said.

This final question tripped up Robinson: “Forbes says Jennifer Lawrence was the highest-paid actress in 2016; this alliterative woman was second.” The answer was “Who is Melissa McCarthy?”

Denise Robinson said her son isn’t the kind of person to sit down and watch a lot of TV or movies. The Greenwich woman believes her son is “great in science and math — anything to do with geography.”

“It’s just the luck of the draw,” she said.

Emmett Robinson, a Cleveland-based business-law attorney, appeared on the April 19 and 20 episodes of “Jeopardy!,” which were recorded in California at the end of January. He earlier shared with the Reflector his experiences testing for the game show and recording the episodes. 

He was the only person to correctly answer the Final Jeopardy question the first night and won with $17,601. During his second appearance, Robinson remained ahead of his opponents for the majority of the game, especially after correctly answering the Daily Double question at the beginning.

Behind the scenes

Robinson, the son of Denise and Michael, went with his mother, two aunts — Lynette Hamman and Linda Teglovic — and his girlfriend, Bella McMichael, to Culver City, Calif., for the recording of what ended up being two episodes. Most of the group hadn’t been to the Los Angeles area, so they spent about a week sight-seeing. 

“It was unbelievable. It was really a highlight of my life,” his mother said about the experience.

She enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes activity of “Jeopardy!” such as 92-year-old announcer Johnny Gilbert, whom she credits with doing “an fantastic job.” 

“The people were so nice,” she added. 

She and her son said many people mentioned they heard about Emmett being on “Jeopardy!” — some of whom they hadn’t heard from in years.

“It was a little bit of amazing to see how many people were touched,” said Denise Robinson, who was pleased with the “great media coverage.” 

“People who didn’t watch the show tuned in.”

Nearly 35 of Emmett Robinson’s family members and friends gathered for a watch party April 19 at the Willard home of his sister, Katie Miller. His mother had “Jeopardy!” T-shirts made.

“She gave me mine the day before,” Robinson said.

North Fairfield resident Stuart Smith, also a 2003 South Central graduate, wore a shirt featuring a photo of Robinson and host Alex Trebek.

“I did have a smaller watch party the second night — just eight or so people from work. I thought I played a lot better that game  — and definitely was more relaxed and so (I) had a lot more fun, but (I) just didn't luck out with the Final Jeopardy category like I did the night before,” Robinson said.

The ‘champ’

One of the people at the family watch party was Robinson’s great-uncle, Royden Trimner, 87, of Willard. He didn’t know the outcome until that night.

“You didn’t tell me he won,” said Robinson’s mother, quoting the great-uncle.

Apparently it was only Robinson who couldn’t share the final outcome.

“The sound guy told (my family) they could tell anybody they wanted, as long as they didn’t publish it,” he said.

Even in real time, Robinson’s time being a “Jeopardy!” champion was short lived.

“They tape five shows a day, back-to-back, so you are only the reigning champion for like 10 minutes,” he said, referring to the amount of time between the tapings.

“Thankfully for me, though, my first show was the third one of the day and so the last one before lunch break. So I at least got to be the reigning champion for the hour-long lunch break. The staff refers to you as ‘champ’ too, which makes you feel pretty self-important.”

Robinson was asked if watching the episodes several months later triggered any memories.

“There were several (categories) I didn’t get any (correct answers) in,” he said. “No sweeps. There were some I got three or four in.”

Robinson laughed as he recalled hearing feedback such as “you didn’t embarrass us too bad.” On a more serious note, he and his mother said many people told them how pleased they were to hear Greenwich being mentioned on TV. 

“It was kind of weird watching myself on TV, so I walked out (of the room) a couple times,” Robinson said. “It was a lot of fun having everyone there.”

His mother enjoyed the entire experience.

“It was just exciting to watch it — and the lead-up to it,” she said. “Overall, a fun, neat experience.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Staff writer Zoe Greszler contributed to this story.

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