Conway native looks to keep ‘Jeopardy’ winning streak going


From WMBF News partner MyHorryNews:

Although he works as an attorney in Los Angeles now, the current Jeopardy game show winner is a Conway High School graduate with family and friends still living in the rivertown.

Jon Eisenman had won a total of $103,902 in five games through Thursday and is set to return to try to increase his winnings tonight.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Eisenman said. “It’s the ‘irrepressible smile on your face all day’ kind of fun.”

It has also been fun for Eisenman’s friends and family.

His fifth grade teacher, Frances Dennis, said she has followed his journey not only on Jeopardy but also throughout his life.

“Everybody knew he would be successful,” Dennis said. “He’s a great kid, very smart and very perceptive. I always knew he was going to do great things.”

Dennis wasn’t just his teacher, though. Her son Jay was friends with Eisenman and the current game show sensation visited their home from time to time.

“We got to know him pretty well,” she said. “He has a great sense of humor.”

Eisenman’s father, Conway gastroenterologist Richard Eisenman, and his stepmother Phyllis attended some of the filming.

“It was very exciting and I was very proud of him,” the elder Eisenman said.

While at the show, he said, the families of other contestants who sat with them were very gracious and friendly.

The elder Eisenman said his son has a penchant for reading and for doing things that are out of the ordinary that has helped in his game show experience.

“I think that’s been very helpful for him,” he said. “I think he likes the challenge, also.”

The younger Eisenman said he had tried out for the show several times since 2013. He first tried out while living in Phoenix, Ariz.

“I think I took the test probably five times, total,” Eisenman said.

Eisenman then auditioned and received the call that he had been selected to be on the show.

The prep work and filming, he said, was enjoyable. He was especially impressed with the show’s production crew.

“The people that work there are consummately professional and it’s impossible, I think, to not be really happy when you’re there playing,” Eisenman said. “It probably helps that I’ve won, though.”

The production crew who work with the contestants, especially, were a lot of fun. Many of those people, he said, have been working with the show for 30 years or more.

“Somehow, all of them have this infectious enthusiasm,” he said. “They get everybody psyched up.”

Eisenman said what viewers see on television is actually very similar to what happens on the set.

“It moves very quickly,” he said. “Whenever you see a commercial on TV, the game stops for as long as the commercial goes.”

During that time, the show’s crew goes into a frenzy of work making sure everything is operating correctly, such as the buzzers contestants use to buzz in and answer questions.

“It’s a very rigorous process,” Eisenman said. “There are a ton of judges there, a compliance lawyer there – they don’t screw around. They come out with water and the makeup people fix your makeup. It’s a lot of stuff to do very quickly and then the show resumes.”

How did it feel on stage for Eisenman?

“I don’t know if people will believe this, but I wasn’t really nervous,” he said.

Before the show is filmed, the contestants go through a rehearsal where they learn how the show runs.

“You get a feel for how the other contestants will play, how the buzzers work, and for standing on stage behind the podium,” Eisenman said.

The live studio audience wasn’t a problem for him, either. The stage is brightly lit so that even when the audience is present, it isn’t easy to see them.

The audience also has to be quiet, applauding at what he called “natural applause points,” such as when a contestant swept a category.

Eisenman said the audience was “very unobtrusive.”

Eisenman chalks his success on the show – which he did not study for, he noted – up to the type of person he is.

“People have natural inclinations for certain things,” he said. “I have a memory for trivia.”

The current winner said anyone who wants to try out for the game should.

“There’s nothing to lose,” he said. “The test itself doesn’t take long, and it’s just a matter of going to the website to see when the next one is. There’s no penalty, and it doesn’t cost anything.”

Even the third place contestant gets $1,000, and the second place contestant wins $2,000, so Eisenman said trying out is basically “found money.”

And he is very glad he tried out.

“My attitude was that I got a day off work, got to be on national TV and get $1,000 at least,” he said. “Nothing wrong with that picture.”

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