by Emma Polen | features editor
Jan. 20, 2022
Ally Bove has wanted to compete on “Jeopardy!” since forever.
She finally got her chance in November, and the episode finally aired to the public on Jan. 12.
Since her childhood, Bove has watched “Jeopardy!” religiously.
Bove recalled watching “Jeopardy!” with her grandparents. “I’d go down to their house every night after dinner and watch “Jeopardy!” and Wheel of Fortune with them. But “Jeopardy!” was always the game that we took more seriously,” she said.
Bove’s grandfather was her first inspiration to be on “Jeopardy!” because of his seemingly endless smarts.
“He didn’t have a lot of formal education, but he read so many books and always watched the History Channel, and he always knew all the answers, and I always wanted to become that knowledgeable,” Bove said.
Bove grew up in Johnstown, but she came to Pittsburgh to begin her formal education at Duquesne. Bove graduated from Duquesne in 2007, and she has remained in Pittsburgh in the physical therapy department at University of Pittsburgh.
Bove began to pursue her “Jeopardy!” dream after graduate school. “I started taking the test every year. But I probably took it five or six times before I ever got an audition. And [then] I did and I auditioned twice, unsuccessfully. So I was on my third round of being in the pool of potential contestants before they called me,” she said.
Bove admitted that her third time trying out for the show, she was close to giving up.
“I had kind of been thinking to myself, ‘Gosh, if I don’t get on this time, I don’t know if I’m ever going to know enough to get on.’”
Luckily, Bove was successful in beating out the other potential “Jeopardy!” competitors to be on the show.
Once she was invited to participate as a contestant, Bove went right to work preparing as best she could.
“You only get about three or four weeks’ notice that you’re going on the show,” Bove said. She already had been compiling a list of potential topics that she knew little about. With this list, Bove began studying.
“So, because I watch every night, I know what kinds of categories tend to come up frequently and I know which ones I’m not as strong in,” Bove said. She would study pages of information from anticipated categories that she did not feel as confident in, mainly history and literature.
While the years of careful study of the “Jeopardy!” categories helped her feel more prepared, Bove said, “Unfortunately, literally none of it came up in my game so…it did not actually help me to answer every single question in my game.”
In Bove’s defense, who could have anticipated “Reptilian words/phrases” as a category?
Question-wise, Bove stepped into the competition confident in her “Jeopardy!” knowledge. It was the buzzer, Bove said, that gave her some anxiety before competing.
“My first rehearsal, I managed to successfully ring-in zero times,” Bove said.
With a little bit of self-coaching, Bove changed her buzzer-hitting technique and was more successful in her buzz-in’s in the actual game.
Bove finished the competition in second place, losing to the ongoing champion, Amy Schneider.
Over the two days Bove was at the “Jeopardy!” studio, ten episodes (five episodes per day) were filmed. This meant that while Bove was off-air, she was able to make friends with the other contestants.
According to Bove, each day hosted a returning champ, 10 contestants and a few alternates.
Because of Covid, there was no way for family or friends to be in the studio. In a way, this helped the contestants grow even closer.
In fact, Bove has continued to stay in touch with the people she met during her time at the studio through group messages.
Bove said that, among other things, the contestants have been using the group chats for “commiserating over running into the buzzsaw that was Schneider who’s currently a 32-time champ.”
“And also, it’s just nice to have people that just went through that same process that you did and who probably dreamed about it, at least as long as you had as well,” Bove said.
In a more personal way, she believed the experience was meant to happen.
“I filmed my episode on Nov. 2, which was the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing,” Bove said. “And then my episode ended up airing the week that my grandmother, who’s still with us, turned 90.”
“It just really made me feel like that kind of came full circle. I thought that was just perfect, kind of [a] poetic ending to my “Jeopardy!” journey,” she said.
Besides other contestants and her family, people from all across Pittsburgh have been cheering Bove on since the show’s airing.
“It’s been totally crazy, but the level of support that I’ve had has been awesome. And so many people who I don’t know have reached out and just said, ‘Hey, you did your best against Amy. You made Pittsburgh proud,’” Bove said.
Stay tuned for Jan. 20. Dr. Patrick Lackey, another Duquesne Alumni, also competed and his episode will air on CBS this Thursday, Jan. 20.