CLINTON/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — She is the latest metro Detroiter to appear on one of America’s greatest quiz shows.
Who is Sarah von Oeyen?
The Clinton-Macomb Public Library adult services librarian appeared on TV as a “Jeopardy!” contestant March 28.
The Troy resident made her TV debut, finishing in third place and bringing home a $1,000 consolation prize.
She signed a nondisclosure agreement, which prevented her from sharing how she fared on the show prior to its airing.
On March 28, she went up against a sports industry consultant from Georgia and a biomedical engineer from Ann Arbor.
“It was both stressful and fun. Everybody I met was really nice,” she said one day prior to the episode airing.
The March 28 episode, which came in season 35 of “Jeopardy!”, was taped on Feb. 4 at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California. Von Oeyen said that one week of shows is taped in one day.
She grew up in the Sacramento area, around six hours north of Culver City.
“I’ve always been interested in trivia and was first introduced to ‘Jeopardy!’ by my grandparents who were big fans,” von Oeyen said. “When I would go to visit them, they would turn it on most nights and casually watch. I always found it fun to play along at home.”
In order to be a contestant on the show, von Oeyen first had to take an online test.
“I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s not that hard to register online,” she said. “When you take the test, you never know how you did. They don’t give you the results.”
After taking the test in March 2018, von Oeyen received an email saying she did well enough to be invited to an in-person audition, her third since 2009.
“The ‘Jeopardy’ team travels around the country, and Detroit was one of the audition cities,” she said.
In August 2018, von Oeyen auditioned at the Westin-Book Cadillac.
Her first audition was in 2009 in Chicago, and then in Detroit in 2015.
“At the end of the audition, they tell you you have an 18-month window of eligibility, so you spend the next couple of months waiting to see if you’ll ever get a phone call,” von Oeyen said.
She received the good news that she would be on the show about five months after the audition.
Earlier in March, von Oeyen, who has worked at the CMPL Main Branch in Clinton Township for a year, was introduced by Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn at the March 8 State of the Township address.
There, Dunn said “We are so happy for you and happy for us that we have you. Good luck.”
On March 6, the show’s host since 1984, Alex Trebek, announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win,” he said.
“He seemed the same as always when I saw him,” von Oeyen said. “It was very surprising when I heard the news. It was very sad.”
Her advice to those who want to be on “Jeopardy!” is to watch the show regularly, adding that writers have written hundreds of thousands of questions, so folks can notice a theme after a while.
Von Oeyen has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.