Mehlville band director is a three-time ‘Jeopardy!’ champion

Fiasco first auditioned to be on the game show in 2020

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Emily Fiasco, above right, on ‘Jeopardy!’

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Emily Fiasco, an assistant band director at two Mehlville middle schools and a Mehlville High alum, attained success recently in “Jeopardy!,” one of the country’s most famous game shows. She won three times for a total of $88,000 in prize money.

Fiasco’s “Jeopardy!” journey began in August 2020, when she took the 50 question, 15 minute test online to qualify.

“I remember my kids had started going back to daycare so I could do all my teaching virtually and I was like ‘Alright, there’s nobody to distract me in the house this is a good time,’” she said.

Representatives from the show didn’t contact Fiasco until almost a year later for the next portion of her audition. She went through five more interviews, including an in-person test to check for cheating. One of the interviews included a mock show appearance to “see if you are awkward on camera.”

Fiasco received word she would be on the show this April, with filming set for May, leaving her a month to prepare. Much of her preparation centered around the J! Archive website, which gives clues from past shows.

“Reading through those clues, you get a good sense of the material they’re going to ask,” Fiasco said. “My husband made me a buzzer system at home. He wrote this computer program that pulled the clues from the website and it would go up on our TV and we had a buzzer … so I could see how many milliseconds my reaction time was.”

Fiasco said she felt it was a little excessive at the time, but it ended up working for her in the end.

Fiasco said she was already prepared for questions related to music or music history, with her master’s degree in music history from the University of Missouri, so she prepared more heavily on topics like geography.

She said on her last day there was a whole category about Herman Wouk, an American author, that ended up stumping all three contestants.

A couple things from filming surprised Fiasco. She said an entire week’s episodes are all filmed in one day, so she won three times and lost all within the course of two hours. Fiasco said all the contestants who filmed that day have remained in touch via group chat, and some have even visited each other while traveling.

Fiasco said she hasn’t fully decided how to spend her winnings, but she would like to redo a bathroom in her house.