Avid Jeopardy! watchers may have noticed a familiar face recently.
Marysville resident Chip Bell was a contestant on the game show, appearing in episodes that aired Jan. 23, 24 and 27.
"I've always been a fan of the show. I've been watching it since I was in college," Bell said.
Bell is a telecom engineer with AT&T and has a master's in business administration. Trivia has always been something Bell has enjoyed; he often played Trivial Pursuit in high school and college.
In January 2012, he decided to take his trivia knowledge to the next level and took the online test to be a Jeopardy! contestant.
"In May 2012, they gave me a call and asked me to come up to Cleveland for an audition," he said.
The audition included a short practice game and interviews with contestant coordinators.
Jeopardy! opens its online contestant search only on specific dates. Once someone passes the test, they may be invited to an in-person interview. If that goes well, they will be in an active file and may be called to appear on the show.
The call came for Bell in October 2013. In November, Bell and his 14-year-old son flew to Culver City, Calif., near Los Angeles, and stepped into the studio of one of America's longest-running game shows.
"First of all, I was in awe of how beautiful that set is. You get a sense of it on TV, but once you're there it's even more spectacular in person," Bell said.
Bell said contestants get to watch a couple of games before they are called on-set. They field a few practice questions, which he said helped calm his nerves a bit.
"Honestly, the first two questions up there I was scared to death. There are about 10 million people watching and about 200 in the audience," he said. "I could feel myself shaking. But once I answered a few questions, I calmed down and just concentrated on the game."
That concentration helped him become a two-day champion and earn second place on his third show. He brought home more than $31,000 in winnings.
Bells said he got to talk to host Alex Trebek a few times.
"Very nice guy, very friendly. We would chat in the middle of the set when the show was over," Bell said.
On Bell's last show, Trebek asked what his teenage son thought of his Jeopardy! appearance.
"I told Alex, 'He's a 14-year-old boy. I can't exactly say he's proud of me after I won a couple games. But I think he's a little less ashamed of me than he used to be,' " Bell said. "After the game, Alex came up to me said, 'Don't worry, I know your son is proud of you.' "
As it turned out, he said, his son was happy for him and considered the trip an experience of a lifetime.
Like most game shows, Jeopardy! restricts what contestants can reveal before their episodes air on TV. Bell told a few friends when he got the call to go to California, but didn't really let the cat out of the bag until a couple weeks before the show aired.
Now that he knows what goes on behind the scenes, Bell said he still enjoys Jeopardy! but watches it a little differently now.