Before you start buying vowels, tune into “Jeopardy” on Sept. 23. Two of the three contestants on the fabled TV game show that day will be Presbyterians, and one of them will be clearly identifiable.
The Rev. Collin Adams, pastor of Pollocksville (N.C.) Presbyterian Church in Coastal Carolina Presbytery, will be seen wearing a sweater vest with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seal on it when he hobnobs with legendary “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek.
“My father [the Rev. Travis Adams, pastor of Mountain Presbyterian Church in Blairsville, Ga.] found it at the 2004 General Assembly in Denver,” Collin told the Presbyterian News Service in a Sept. 13 interview. “He picked it up for himself but it was too big so he gave it to me.”
Collin grew up watching “Jeopardy” with his dad, “so I wanted to honor him by wearing it on the show,” he said, noting that he also wore a cross given to him by his wife, who picked it up at Montreat Conference Center.
As a lifelong “Jeopardy” fan, Collin said he “always said ‘I’d love to be on the show, but never got around to trying out.’” Then last winter a seminary classmate posted a note on Facebook that he was taking the online test for the show, “and that gave me the idea,” Collin said.
He discovered he was too late to take the Eastern Time Zone test, so Collin “stayed up really late” to take the Mountain Time Zone test. “Two months later I got an email inviting me to audition in Nashville at the beginning of May.”
There he took a written test ― “to make sure I was the same smart guy that took the online test,” Collin said laughing ― and played a short game on-camera “to make sure I wasn’t going to use bad language if I missed a question or something,” he added.
Collin didn’t think he’d done that well at the audition, but three weeks later he got phone call asking him to be a contestant. “I said ‘yes’ but I probably shouted ‘YES,’” he said, and went running down the road to tell his wife, who was walking the family dogs. “I was shouting and waving my arms,” he laughed. “She thought I was being stung by bees.”
At the taping of the show in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, Collin learned that his fellow competitors were the “Jeopardy” defending champion and a Presbyterian deacon from Baltimore, Stephanie Femrite Stevens.
Alex Trebek, Collin said, “is a very nice guy and just as smart as he seems. He’s got a dry sense of humor and off-camera is a little more risqué than you’d think, but not too bad.”
Every “Jeopardy” fan is curious about what Alex and the contestants are talking about at the end of the show while the credits roll.
“He asked me about my mom,” Collin said, still sounding surprised a month after the taping.
“Alex has these note cards with all sorts of information about us, and on mine he saw that my mother never wanted her sons to be ministers because she knows how hard it is on the wives,” Collin explained. “He was really intrigued by that so he asked me about it.”
The whole experience, said Collin ― who by contract is not allowed to reveal the results of his contest ― “was strange but lots of fun.”