Memphis woman fulfilling lifelong dream with ‘Jeopardy!’ appearance

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UPDATE: Verlinda Johnson Henning is the new “Jeopardy!” champion, after winning on Monday afternoon. Click here to watch an interview she gave after winning.

Original:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis woman will make her “Jeopardy!” appearance next week.

Verlinda Johnson Henning is talking to us back in Memphis a few months after taping the iconic game show. Her TV appearance is set for next week, and it’s something she’s been dreaming of since childhood.

“Oh, it was surreal. I had to keep pinching myself to say, ‘Yes I’m really here,'” Henning said.

Henning actually went to Los Angeles for the show in March. 

“When I got the call in February right after all that snow we had, I could’ve melted the snow, I was so excited,” she said.

Appearing on “Jeopardy!” was a bucket list dream for the lifelong fan. 

“From the days when Art Flemming was the host and Don Pardo was his announcer. I would come home and watch it after school,” she said.

Henning tried for years to get a shot to hold the buzzer.

“I’ve actually been to three in-person auditions. One time in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then two have been here in 2014 and 2018,” she said. “To me, ‘Jeopardy!’ is the gold standard of game shows and if you get on that, you’ve gotta have some brains.”

Henning loves trivia. She’s played in tournaments with different groups around Memphis, and said that being around other trivia buffs at the shows taping was exciting. 

“From all different walks of life, any kind of profession you can think of is there, ages, genders, races. And it was exciting to see there are other people just like me, that know a bunch of stuff and are ready to spout it out.”

She was ready to show off her knowledge. 

“Once, you know, you get the buzzer in your hand and you’re really buzzing in, you get in the zone. I mean I was in the zone, I was playing,” she said.

While the 62-year-old is excited she finally fulfilled a lifelong goal, she’s the first to say it didn’t happen overnight.

Her answer for those trying to accomplish a dream:

“If you want something, you gotta keep after it. Do what it takes, don’t give up, think positive,” she said.

Watch

You can watch Henning this coming Monday, June 7 at 3:30, right here on WREG News Channel 3.

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