WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A D.C. man will be featured Wednesday night as a contestant on Jeopardy!
Brock Thompson is a huge fan of the game show.
"I've watched since I was a kid. This was my third attempt to get on, so third time's a charm," Thompson says.
Last April, Thompson attended a taping of a Power Players episode in Washington, where he was seated with friends in the very last row of the auditorium. But during a break, he and a friend wandered up to the set for a picture.
"A woman came out and said, 'OK, all the VIPs line up here for the backstage tour.' I consider myself important, so we lined up," Thompson says.
Minutes later he was backstage, meeting just the right guy.
"He was a contestants consultant," Thompson says. "And he kind of clocked us immediately as having no business being back there, but he was so cool."
They exchanged information. Then, after passing the online screening process and a Baltimore-based audition, Thompson was heading to Hollywood.
"My only real goal was not to make a complete fool of myself, so I think mission accomplished," he says.
With the help of friends, Thompson spent months preparing: studying the show, playing Trivial Pursuit and exercising his thumbs for that all-important buzzer.
"I had a ball-point pen that I practiced with, with a click top," Thompson says. "And I practiced on the treadmill at the gym. I would watch Jeopardy! on the screen and then have the buzzer in my hands."
With his Ph.D. in history and a passion for pop culture, not to mention his day job at the Library of Congress, Thompson felt confident about possible categories on the show.
"There were a few American History categories that I was thankful were up on the board," he says.
When the day finally arrived, Thompson says Alex Trebek and his fellow contestants were all very kind and courteous, but he could not control his nerves.
"During the interview portion, Alex came over to me and I remember thinking to myself I have a 50-50 chance of words coming out of my mouth or I could just throw up all over him," he says.
Until his episode airs, Thompson can't reveal how he did on the show. His boss at the Library of Congress, Rob Casper says, "Brock has been very vigilant about not telling us about the results of his time in Hollywood."
Now, after his big television appearance, Thompson is dreaming even bigger. He's developing an online talk show: 20 Questions with Brock Thomson. Appropriately, like Jeopardy!, it's all about asking questions.
Thompson is hosting a Jeopardy watch party with friends at a Dupont Circle bar Wednesday. His appearance on the show airs at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA.