Julia Collins could tie record for second-most wins on 'Jeopardy!' Thursday (VIDEO)Continue reading.
On a roll: ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Julia Collins hits new milestone in Thursday episode
Before Julia Collins taped her first “Jeopardy!” show in January, she kept her goal relatively modest: Win one game, enough to qualify as a “Jeopardy!” champion.
Nineteen victories and $410,000 later, the Wilmette woman has tied the record for the second-most consecutive wins — a record set by contestant Dave Madden almost a decade ago.
“It’s so exciting,” Collins said Thursday from her north suburban home, where she watched the historic episode with her mom. “If I’d lost today it would have been disappointing, but how could I complain about this experience?”
Collins, 31, has watched the quiz show since she was a kid in Kenilworth, where she and her three siblings attended Joseph Sears School. In her 8th grade yearbook, Collins predicted she’d be a “Ten Time ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion.”
She first auditioned for the show a few years ago, around the same time she started grad school at MIT.
“I was very nervous and it definitely showed,” she said.
Collins tried out a second time and made it.
She prepared for the competition by breaking out her high school textbooks on European history, Romantic poets and other subjects. (Collins went to New Trier until junior year, when she transferred to a boarding school outside Washington, D.C.) She scoured the internet for other topics.
“I brushed up on opera, which is not something I know much about,” she said. “I thought that I should really know what all the NASA missions are, but none of those have come up yet.
“Only 5 or 10 percent of my answers were things I studied for,” she added. “Most of what studying did for me was just make me feel a little more in control.”
Collins’ copious winnings have given her control over her career choices. After paying off the last of her student loans, she quit her gig as a management consultant with Capgemini last summer. When she started raking in the dough on “Jeopardy!,” the urgency to find a new job subsided.
“It was a good opportunity to just kind of enjoy not working for a little bit,” said Collins, who hasn’t yet received her game-show winnings. She plans to invest some, save some and use some to travel.
Of course, the winningest woman in “Jeopardy!” history can’t divulge whether she breaks the record she shares with Madden in Friday’s episode.
“Whether I win or lose tomorrow, it’s been incredible,” she said. “Sure, you want to hit that marker. But every game, I want to win because I want to keep playing. The best part about ‘Jeopardy!’ is getting to play ‘Jeopardy!’”
The syndicated quiz show airs at 2:30 p.m. weekdays on WLS-Channel 7.