UT pharmacy alum tests her trivia on ‘Jeopardy!’ [updated]

July 23, 2015 | Events, News, UToday, Alumni, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Brandi Barhite

This University of Toledo alumna is a contestant on “Jeopardy!” tonight.

Who is Dr. Erin Saelzler? Correct!

Alex Trebek and Dr. Erin Saelzler posed for a photo on the set of the game show.

Alex Trebek and Dr. Erin Saelzler posed for a photo on the set of the game show.

There are many ways to prepare for one of America’s favorite quiz shows, but Saelzler said her 2012 doctor of pharmacy degree from UT played a large role in getting on the popular game show and ready to compete.

“Going through pharmaceutical school helped me with the science questions as did my elective classes,” Saelzler said.

While the 31-year-old Toledo resident placed third on her July 23rd appearance, her misspelling of Brigham Young University in the final round caused a stir on social media. Fans of the show wanted the answer to count, but “Jeopardy!”

“I actually thought I had spelled it correctly because that is the way I had always pronounced it,” Saelzler said. “Alex Trebek gave it to me, but the judges came in and overruled him. We had to reshoot that part of the show.

“It was still fun,” she said. “I know that it isn’t the first time that something like that has happened with a spelling mistake.”

Saelzler remembers watching the show with her parents in their Oregon home when she was a teenager. Sometimes they would go over to her grandparents’ house to watch it. She yelled out as many answers as the adults, if not more, she said.

In January 2013, she took the online Jeopardy test, which led to a live audition in Detroit in July that year.

“I took another written test, and then the contestant coordinator interviews you and pairs you up with people to have mock games,” Saelzler said. “I felt pretty confident, tempered by the fact that the contestant pool was a couple thousand and they only choose a couple hundred contestants per season.”

Saelzler didn’t think she had made the cut after the 18-month window for a decision had elapsed.

“But then they called me six weeks before they wanted me on the show,” she said. “I was so surprised because I had heard stories of people auditioning five times before they got on the show. I was preparing to audition again before they called me.”

Saelzler flew out to Los Angeles in April to tape. Contestants are required to pay for their flight and hotel, but it works out, she said, because the third-place contestant still takes home $1,000.

“It is kind of a surreal thing to be on the show,” she said. “It is one thing to watch it at home and say, ‘It would be neat to be on the show,’ but it is a whole other experience to be giving Alex Trebek your answers.”

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