Jon Eisenman’s profile on the Jeopardy! website. (Courtesy photo)
Jon Eisenman is not a quitter. The appellate lawyer in Los Angeles tried five times to appear on “Jeopardy!” before he snagged a spot on the TV answer-and-question game show. So far, he’s won three games and is due to play his fourth on July 5.
Eisenman, who is a former associate in the D.C. office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, now works as an associate at L.A.-based Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, an appellate boutique that opened a San Francisco office last year.
His clients include a company called Eleanor Licensing, which owns the rights to “Eleanor,” the car that stars in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds.”
Appearing on “Jeopardy!” has been a near-lifelong ambition for Eisenman, who started taking the online test to get on the show back in 2009. He made the cut twice before and advanced to the audition stage, only to get passed over.
But his perseverance paid off. Earlier this year, Eisenman, a 2008 graduate of University of Texas School of Law, got the call to start taping the show in L.A.
Here’s what Eisenman, 35, had to say about the experience. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Does being a lawyer make you a better “Jeopardy!” contestant?
I’m sure it helps to some extent. I think I’m less nervous. People who have been watching tell me I’ve been exhibiting a sang-froid.
What made you want to go on the show?
I thought “I could be on ‘Jeopardy!’ Why not do this?” It’s not a heavy commitment of time. It takes about five minutes once a year to take the test online and maybe an afternoon of taping. I also had two friends who’d been on it before [Andrew Haringer and Todd Grabarsky].
Has your practice gotten a marketing bump from your appearance on the show?
Nothing yet, but it’s perhaps a little early given that the first episode aired on the Friday leading into a long weekend.
Have you received emails and phone calls from people who saw you on the show?
I have. Some of them have been a little strange. There was a guy in Canada who wondered if I was related to him.
I’ve heard rumors that the contestants are told the categories before the show. Is that true?
That is categorically, absolutely not true. Their compliance lawyers are very serious.
What surprised you about being on the show?
How quickly it went. They do five episodes a day—one half hour, then one half hour and so on. It’s very efficient.
Alex Trebek seems pretty stiff. What’s he like in person?
I can’t speak to the depths of his soul, but I would say he’s a pleasant fellow.
Was it difficult juggling your practice and the show?
I certainly didn’t count on persevering through more than one game, but my colleagues at work have been very supportive.
Did you win on the July 5 episode?
I really can’t say.
Contact Leigh Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @LeighJones711.