Georgia woman on 'Jeopardy' streak

Athens native Sara Wilkinson has earned $72,000 so far on “Jeopardy

 ATHENS, Ga. -- Sara Wilkinson's family always marveled at how much random information she carried around in her head, but no one thought her knowledge of U.S. presidents and 19th century authors would take her places.


It turns out they were wrong - all that trivia has earned her $72,000, so far.

The Athens native and former actress began a three-game winning streak on the TV quiz show "Jeopardy!" last week, and she'll appear on the show for the fourth time  tonight.

"My father always said I knew more stuff that would never make any money than anyone he had ever known," said Wilkinson, who works as a concierge at Athens Country Club and cares for her mother.

Wilkinson is a lifelong "Jeopardy!" fan, so when the chance to try out for the show came along, she took it. "Jeopardy!" producers flew her to Culver City, Calif., to film the shows in August. Those episodes are airing now and making her a celebrity among the regulars at the country club.

"They are so sweet," Wilkinson said of the ladies who regularly eat lunch or play bridge at the club. "When your office is in the hallway, and you've just been on 'Jeopardy!', you don't get a lot of work done. Everyone's very excited about it."

She can't talk about shows that haven't aired, but last week's shows are OK to discuss.

The hardest answer she faced that week was in Final Jeopardy! on Friday night's show: "He was the president during the first modern Olympic Games."

The question didn't come to her until the last second, Wilkinson said. Then, it popped into her head: "Who is William McKinley?"

A lot of knowledge hides in the far corners of people's brains, she said. She doesn't remember knowing about some of the topics on Wednesday's show, though she obviously did, as she found out watching the show later.

"So he reads a question and I think, 'Well, I don't know that,' " she said. "Then, I watched myself ring in and answer it. ... It was really disconcerting. I knew it 10 weeks ago, but watching it, not only did I not know the answer, but I did not remember knowing it."

Wilkinson graduated from Clarke Central High School in 1989, dropped out of Brenau College after two years and started acting with various theater companies. She toured the country playing for school groups, and then returned to Athens in 2005.

"Yeah, I'm a college dropout, so this (knowledge) is just the product of Clarke County public schools," Wilkinson said. "So, here's a shout-out to Clarke Central. They gave me a pretty fine education."

Wilkinson came back to Athens to take care of her mother who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease, a degenerative illness that attacks the parts of brain and spine that control voluntary muscle movement.

The money she's won so far is a much-needed cushion for the family's finances, she said.

"I'm psyched in the sense that I can foresee a time when it will come in handy," she said. "It came at the right time, that's for sure."



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