Lubbock ISD graduate competes on Jeopardy!

Updated: Nov. 28, 2019 at 3:27 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The third time was the charm for Jamin Speer in his quest to compete on “Jeopardy!”. His first appearance is Thanksgiving Day on KCBD at 4:30 p.m.

Speer tells KCBD the process begins by taking an online test. If you score high enough, you get invited to an in-person tryout.

“Once you do that, they don’t tell you anything,” Speer said. “You just get a call one day saying you made it. They tell you from the tryout stage to the show, one in seven people make it. This is my third time getting through that tryout stage and I finally got the call this time.”

Speer said his family moved to Lubbock in 1989 when he was almost five years old. He is now an Economics Professor at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee.

“I grew up in Lubbock schools, first in Lubbock Christian then at Honey Elementary, Evans Junior High and Monterey High School,” Speer said. “My parents are still there. So, I’m very much a product of Lubbock and still connected through my family.”

He said his anticipated appearance on “Jeopardy!” has helped him reconnect with Lubbock because of all the well-wishes. He said the process of preparing for the competition also helped him reconnect to his time in Lubbock ISD.

“In Monterey, I was part of the academic decathlon program where they give you a lot of books and tell you to learn all this stuff and they are going to test you on it,” Speer said. “I did that and competed at Monterey. It turns out a lot of those study skills I learned in high school were really useful for studying the things I wanted to bone up on before ‘Jeopardy!’. I did a lot of studying of Shakespeare and opera and literature, the things that I’m not an expert on to try and get some of knowledge. Yeah, I found myself using some of the skills that I learned in LISD so I’m thankful for that.”

He said the key to his success in making the show was an ability to, “soak up a lot of useless knowledge.”

“It’s a skill but doesn’t necessarily mean you are that smart, but definitely have a good memory,” Speer said. “I think people who go on ‘Jeopardy!’ are people who are curious. They like to read a lot and learn a lot of interesting things and retain that knowledge. There are some skills involved for sure but I don’t know if it makes you a genius or anything like that.”

Speer tells KCBD he was particularly grateful to make the show this time around, since the host, Alex Trebek, is experiencing a fight with cancer.

“I think for anybody that’s a big ‘Jeopardy!’ fan, that’s part of the thrill that you get to meet Alex,” Speer said. “My family got to come with me and see the taping of the show, so we all got to interact with Alex a little bit. During commercial breaks, he comes out and answers audience questions. It’s just very generous and he’s kind with his time. The day I taped, he said he was not feeling very well. He’s had a rough time but he’s putting on a good face and going through it.”

Speer encourages anyone who has an interest to take the online quiz, even if just for fun.

“It’s a really fun experience to take the test and if you get past that stage, it just gets more fun,” Speer said. “If you like to watch the show, follow along with it and scream out the answers, give it a shot. Go online and take the test.

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