‘Jeopardy’ contestant who lives in Albany discusses how she fared
NISKAYUNA — When the Daily Double showed up for Charlotte Diffendale that day in January, while the Albany resident and mail carrier was in California taping an episode of “Jeopardy” while wearing a marching band jacket, she bet $5,800 — the full amount she’d had done. won at that moment.
It was the second round of the game, which aired Tuesday night, and Diffendale, playing seven years after she first took an online test to be a “Jeopardy” contestant, was in last place. Her big bet was based on a broad category for the Daily Double, “Two-Word Terms,” but Diffendale felt immediate relief when she saw clues: “Until the late 19th century, this name for an achievement of horse racing was only used to describe the papal diadem.”
The Triple Crown, of course. Animals are important to Diffendale, especially horses. She twice rode the Belmont Stakes, one of the Triple Crown’s constituent races, with her father, the late Stephen Diffendale of Round Top in Greene County.
Diffendale was in second place going into the final round of “Jeopardy,” and that’s where she ended up: in second place, with $5,199. All three contestants answered incorrectly.
Category: “Medieval countries”.
Clue: “One of the participants in an event of 1170 in this place said: “Leave us, knights; he shall rise no more.”
The answer: Canterbury Cathedral, where Archbishop Thomas Becket – of whom King Henry II had cried: “Will no one save me from this turbid priest!” – was killed by four knights of the king.
Diffendale said she got it wrong because, having studied English monarchies in the nearly 18 months between announcing she was in the pool of contenders and calling for the Jeopardy record in January, she had returned to the reign of Richard II (1377). to 1399), but inexplicably then jumped further, to William the Conqueror (1066-1087).
“I never connected the two periods, and here was Thomas Becket,” Diffendale said, chatting by phone Wednesday during a break from her postal rounds in Niskayuna, where she is a floating carrier covering five routes.
The day before, hours before the episode aired, Differndale wore the jacket she wore for the Jeopardy taping on her postal run – a suggestion she said came from one of the show’s staffers.
The internet loved the jacket on Tuesday night, comparing it to outfits worn by everyone from Michael Jackson to the Beatles to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Queen Elizabeth II. Brilliant red with a black stand-up collar and gold fish-shaped decorations attached to large buttons, the jacket reminded Diffendale of something from under the big top.
“My sister calls that jacket ‘Ringmaster of the Trout Circus,’ which (it’s a show) I would watch, so I usually think about it,” Diffendale said, but some on Twitter had other ideas, many involving bands the march.
“I hadn’t thought of ‘marching band’ until Twitter was involved in ‘The Music Man,'” Diffendale said. She didn’t think about a band uniform because she was never in one, stationary or marching, she said.
For the record, the outfit is called the Red Fish Blazer Nuvola, from a company called The Extreme Collection, and costs $669.
“I tend to be more of a jacket person than a dress person, and if I’m going to pick something, it’s going to be kind of quirky and special,” Diffendale said. She didn’t buy it specifically to wear on “Jeopardy,” she said, because at the time of purchase she didn’t know if she would.
“But it’s always in the back of your mind, ‘Well, if it happens, that would be a good excuse to wear it,'” Diffendale said.
Now 43, Diffendale credits that she and her family watched “Jeopardy” together throughout her childhood and teenage years in the family’s Greene County home since it began in syndication 39 years ago. She was dedicated enough to know that venerable host Alex Trebek, on the “Jeopardy” floor giving clues from 1984 until his death in 2020, had a favorite animal: the musk ox. Since Trebek died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80, Differdale has sent contributions to symbolically “adopt” a musk ox on an Alaskan ranch, for whose animals Trebek was such an ardent supporter that he was called “Grandpa of the herd”.
Diffendale first auditioned online for “Jeopardy” in 2016. She auditioned in person in New York City in 2018, via Zoom video in 2020 and again in the spring of 2021, when she was told she was part of the contestant pool. , which lasts. up to 18 months. As that window was closing last fall, she was invited to a taping, but tested positive for COVID — for the first time — and was allowed to wait until January to appear in an episode.
Her second-place dollar earnings totaled $5,199, but, per the show’s terms, she received $2,000.
“This to cover my expenses,” she said. For single-appearance contestants, Jeopardy does not pay for transportation or lodging.
“It doesn’t matter. It was all about the experience,” she said. “Right after the show I was OK with not winning, then I was down about it, but I gave myself the ride home to get over it. By the time I got to (a stop in) Detroit, I was back to OK. .”