BELLBROOK — A former Sugarcreek Township resident and 1990 Bellbrook High School graduate will appear on “Jeopardy!” 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 on Channel 2, WDTN NBC Dayton.
“Jeopardy!” marks the third nationally televised quiz program on which Rob Worman has competed, but his love for the game began long before he scored that first appearance.
“I’ve always loved game shows ever since I remember watching with my dad as a kid. I remember Dad taking me to tryouts for ‘Teen Jeopardy’ when I was 16. I didn’t make it at the time, but that planted a seed,” Worman, who now lives in Minneapolis, said in a phone interview.
Together, the father-son pair watched “The Joker’s Wild,” “Tic-Tac-Dough,” “The Price is Right,” “Jeopardy!” and other daytime game shows.
But Worman said he didn’t start seriously thinking about trying out for a show again until 2001 when “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” with Regis Philbin was airing on prime time.
A year later, Worman was the last man standing on “Weakest Link,” winning $29,000.
“I came to realize maybe I have the right interests, personality type and trivia knowledge … ” Worman said.
Then in 2009, he appeared on “Millionaire” with host Meredith Vieira and won $25,000.
But his most recent game show experience started with an online “Jeopardy!” test.
“It’s pretty hard. There are 50 fast-paced questions and they give you a few seconds to answer each one. If you do well enough, they might call you to audition in person,” Worman explained.
After he received an email asking if he wanted to audition, he flew to Denver in August 2017. There, he and about 45 others took a written test and practiced the game in threes, each with a buzzer in hand, on camera.
“You have to demonstrate you know how to play the game,” Worman said. “They care probably more about personality — do you have energy? — than they do — do you know all the presidents in order?”
At the end of the audition, the crew told the group that, if chosen, a contestant would receive a call within the next 18 months.
“There was no indication I did any better or worse than the woman sitting next to me,” Worman said.
Two months later, the phone rang.
“I was shocked … They said, ‘What are you doing on Nov. 27?’ and I said, ‘I’ll be there!’” Worman recounted. “Oh my gosh, it was breathtaking. It was a dream come true. And I only had a month [to study].”
Worman, who works as a computer consultant, said he made flash cards and studied about a half hour a day leading up to the show.
In November, he and his wife Shoshana flew to Los Angeles and took a bus to Sony Pictures Studio where the program was taped.
“It was the most fun. It was a bucket list item. My wife said the same thing,” Worman said. “It was right up there with getting married and the birth of our daughter. It was the most fun in the world.”
Worman credits his game show success largely to his calm demeanor.
“I was not nervous,” he said. “I think that’s why I got on the show.”
In his pocket, though, he kept a lucky Zippo lighter. Inscribed with his initials, his dad, Charles Worman, gave it to him when he was 16.
“I’m not allowed to reveal how successful he was, but I can say I am extremely proud of what he accomplished,” the older Worman wrote in a letter to the Gazette.
Due to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the show will air at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. on Channel 2, WDTN NBC Dayton. Registration is open for the next “Jeopardy!” online test, which will be held Tuesday, March 6 on jeopardy.com.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.