Ocean County Resident To Compete on ‘Jeopardy!’

Mayim Bialik served as host when Reagan White appeared on Jeopardy. (Photo courtesy Jeopardy)

  MANAHAWKIN – A 2019 Southern Regional High School graduate will hit prime time TV when she appears as a contestant on the TV game show “Jeopardy!”

  Reagan White, 19, who lives in Manahawkin, said her participation in the show was actually taped in January of this year. Those interested in seeing how Reagan fared can watch her on Thursday, April 7th, at 7 p.m. on the ABC network.

  Bound by the competition rules, Reagan provided no insight concerning whether she walked away with any money or moved to the next round.

  After years of watching the show from the comforts of her home, Reagan did what many other viewers do as well. She’d guess the answers before they were revealed – and found it interesting how often she came up with the correct responses.

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  “My dad actually watched Jeopardy! with me every night, even when he was really tired,” shared Reagan. “He was the one who said I think you could hang with them (the contestants) and actually be on the show.”

  In approximately December 2020, Reagan learned Jeopardy! offered online testing, and she decided to give it a shot after her father encouraged her.

  Six months later, Reagan received the exciting news.

  “I got an email saying that I passed the online test,” Reagan said. “They told me that meant I got through and asked if I wanted to take another online test – this time prompted over Zoom.”

  Reagan wasted no time in saying she was in complete accord with moving to the next step. And – although Reagan’s a Rutgers University student, she wasn’t selected for the college rounds. Instead, she qualified for the regular Jeopardy! show.

  The trip to the game show’s studios in Los Angeles was Reagan’s furthest trip away from home without her parents. And while she’s limited as to what she can say about her appearance until after it airs, Reagan got a great surprise when she learned who was serving as the host.

Reagan White, 19, of Manahawkin, will appear on April 7th’s episode of Jeopardy. (Photo courtesy Jeopardy)

  “It was Mayim Bialik,” shared Reagan. “At the end of the game, they have a little part where the contestants get to chat. She was very nice and asked about my major.”

  “She was very cool and very fashionable, I have to say,” Reagan summed up.

  When she was on the set as a contestant, Reagan said all kinds of things went through her head. She had to remember to keep her answers in the form of a question. Reagan learned afterwards that almost all of the participants think of their moments in the spotlight as becoming one big blur.

  “It was all very exciting and very thrilling,” said Reagan. “Yet, it rang true that it all happens so quickly that you don’t really remember everything.”

  While Jeopardy! traditionally allowed contestants to bring guests as part of a live audience, the producers changed the rules due to COVID-19 restrictions. Only contestants for other rounds sat in the audience seats.

  Reagan began her post-secondary education at the University of Scranton but returned home when the pandemic hit. She subsequently transferred her credits to Ocean County College, where she participated in the NJ Stars program and earned an associate degree in liberal arts.

  After finishing classes at Ocean County College, Reagan transferred to Rutgers, where she is majoring in the Classics. She plans to eventually go to law school, although Reagan’s not sure whether she wants to pursue a career as a prosecutor or on the side of criminal defense.

  Notably, Reagan’s mom and dad are both attorneys who have practiced in the criminal justice system. Reagan credits her parents for her love for the Classics and her overall passion for learning.

  “My mom would read to me from Homer’s Iliad since the time I was a little kid,” shared Reagan. “I honestly thought these were all things she was making up – and think it’s really the reason I love Greek mythology.”

  When Reagan had the opportunity to take Latin at Southern Regional High School, she says she immediately fell in love with it.

  In addition to her academic studies at Southern, Reagan found her participation in the music and theatre departments to be very special. She also enjoyed her role in the marching band as part of the color guard.

  One final piece of excitement came out of Reagan’s trip to the west coast when she took some time to visit the Santa Monica Pier.

  “I live on the water here,” Reagan said. “However, it was still really great to see the Pacific Ocean.”