These ‘Jeopardy’ contestants played against each other, then fell in love and invited Alex Trebek to their wedding

Emily Therese Cloyd and Stacy Cloyd fell in love after competing on ‘Jeopardy.’ Jenny McQueen
  • Emily Therese Cloyd and Stacy Cloyd met while competing on “Jeopardy” in 2010.
  • They first met at an in-person audition in Washington, DC, in May 2009 and were both called to the same taping in Los Angeles eight months later.
  • They competed against each other, and Stacy won – but Emily suggested having a joint viewing party since they both lived in DC.
  • They got engaged two years later and invited Alex Trebek, the “Jeopardy” host, to their wedding.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When people learn how Emily Therese Cloyd and Stacy Cloyd met, they almost always ask the same question.

“Who won?”

Emily and Stacy competed on “Jeopardy,” first meeting at an audition in Washington, DC, before they happened to get booked for the same episode taping eight months later.

Fast-forward 10 years, and Emily is sharing their incredible love story with the world on Twitter. She spoke with Insider about how it all began, what it’s really like to be on “Jeopardy,” and why she’s so thankful for Alex Trebek.

Emily has always loved trivia and tried out for “Jeopardy” after seeing an advertisement for the show’s online test.

Emily Therese Cloyd watches herself on ‘Jeopardy’ during her viewing party in March 2010. Emily Therese Cloyd

“I grew up watching ‘Jeopardy’ with my parents – it was a fairly regular after-dinner routine – and in high school I was on the Quiz Bowl team,” she told Insider. “I continued to watch the show once I was an adult, and I enjoyed going to trivia nights with friends, but I wasn’t a regular in any leagues.

“Although I’d always thought it would be fun to be on the show, I wasn’t really pursuing it until one day I saw an advertisement for the online test and thought it would be fun to try out,” Emily added. “Fittingly, I got the email saying that I’d made it through to the in-person audition one evening after going to trivia night with my roommate.”

In May 2009, Emily went to her audition at the St. Regis hotel in Washington, DC. It was there that she met Stacy, a fellow University of Michigan alumna.

Emily and Stacy first bonded over being University of Michigan alumnae. Emily Therese Cloyd

A “Jeopardy” contestant coordinator had prepared ice-breaker questions to help everyone relax. “Who came the furthest for the audition?” they asked.

Stacy raised her hand, saying that she had just graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor and would soon be moving to DC to work for a local nonprofit’s legal clinic. Emily had received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and was working in DC as a climate scientist.

“After the audition session ended, I followed Stacy on to the elevator and introduced myself as a fellow Michigan alumna and suggested that she get in touch when she moved to town,” Emily said.

She scribbled down her details on a piece of paper but didn’t get Stacy’s information. They wouldn’t see each other again for eight months.

Emily had almost forgotten about her audition when she finally got invited to compete on “Jeopardy” in January 2010.

Emily with Alex Trebek during her ‘Jeopardy’ episode. Emily Therese Cloyd

Emily flew to Los Angeles for the taping at Sony Pictures Studios and saw Stacy, who she said she recognised “right away.”

“I was pretty excited to see someone from the audition and reintroduced myself, since it had been a while and neither of us remembered each other’s name,” she said.

Emily and Stacy got to chat with each other over the next few hours as they waited for their turns to play.

Emily and Stacy bonded as they waited for their turn on the ‘Jeopardy’ set. Emily Therese Cloyd

“You don’t know which game you’ll be on when you come in,” Emily said. “Just before each game, the staff draw the names of the two contestants who will go up against the returning champion.”

They played short practice rounds with buzzers on the set, got their makeup done, and sat in the audience while the other games were taped.

After three games, Emily’s name was finally called. So was Stacy’s.

“When both of us were drawn for the fourth game, I was excited to be playing – and to be playing against someone who seemed like they’d take it seriously but also have fun,” Emily said. “It is a game, after all.”

Emily was shocked at how fast the game — which is filmed in real time — sped by. But she was even more surprised to see that the board of clues was much farther away than it appeared on television.

Emily was surprised by how far away the board actually was on the ‘Jeopardy’ set. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

“On television, of course, when the clue comes up they cut to a full-screen version, so it is really easy to read,” she said. “On the set, the board is pretty far away, especially if, like me, you’re the furthest from the podium. While there is a monitor across from contestants that shows the clue, it is still kind of small in comparison.”

Knowing exactly when to buzz in with the answer also proved more challenging than it looked on TV.

“You have to wait until Alex finishes reading the clue, and a column of lights along the side of the board turns on to tell you it’s OK to buzz in,” Emily said. “But if you buzz in before those lights come on, you get locked out for a fraction of a second – just long enough for someone else to ring in.

“All of the contestants got there because they know a lot of trivia, so it really does come down to strategy and luck on the buzzer and on the categories that come up.”

By the end of the Double Jeopardy round, the winner was clear. Emily had $US400, the returning champion, Manny Maldonado III, had $US1,000, and Stacy had $US15,000.

Emily and Stacy during their episode of ‘Jeopardy.’ Emily Therese Cloyd

“Until Alex pointed out the scores, I’m not certain if Stacy realised that she had locked up the game,” Emily said. “I turned to congratulate her on doing so well, and I caught this little secret smile she’d given herself – just a tiny ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually happening’ kind of thing, and it was really sweet.”

Emily ended the game with $US50. But she and Stacy made plans to have a joint viewing party in Washington, DC, when their episode aired in March.

They emailed back and forth for a few weeks to plan the party, but they didn’t actually see each other again until it was time to watch their episode together.

Emily and Stacy at their joint ‘Jeopardy’ viewing party in March 2010. Emily Therese Cloyd

“The party was a lot of fun, and we met many of each other’s friends, and I also met Stacy’s parents and youngest brother,” Emily said. “But at that point, I wasn’t thinking about more than friendship.”

As the months passed, they saw each other more and more.

After their viewing party, Emily and Stacy kept hanging out. Emily Therese Cloyd

“We both started hoping that there might be something more, but we went through a few rounds of missed or crossed signals on both of our parts,” Emily said. “Eventually, Stacy asked me out – on a date, not hanging out as friends – in September.”

After they started dating, some of Emily’s friends even apologised for saying “mean things” about Stacy while they were competing on the show.

“In the heat of the moment, of course, because loyal friends will always root for you when you’re on a game show,” Emily added.

On Emily and Stacy’s first Valentine’s Day as a couple, in 2011, “Jeopardy” aired an episode in which Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — the highest-earning contestants in the show’s history — competed against IBM’s Watson computer.

They spent their first Valentine’s Day as a couple watching this special episode of ‘Jeopardy.’ YouTube/IBM

“We spent that first Valentine’s Day watching ‘Jeopardy’ together, and that was pretty special since it turned out that Watson had actually trained on our game,” Emily said.

“‘Jeopardy’ would send the questions to IBM after the games were played but before they aired, and Watson would play those games as part of its training.”

Two years after their episode aired, Emily and Stacy were engaged. And there was one very special guest they wanted to invite to the wedding.

Stacy and Emily invited Trebek to their wedding. Emily Therese Cloyd

The couple went to a taping of a special “Celebrity Jeopardy” episode in Washington, DC, where they had tickets in the section for former contestants. They gave Trebek’s invitation to the show’s lead contestant coordinator, Maggie Speak, who they had also invited.

A few days later, Trebek’s response came in the mail.

“We weren’t expecting him to attend, so we weren’t surprised that his answer was no,” Emily said. “But we really appreciated the short note wishing us the best for our marriage.”

“Jeopardy” changed the course of Emily’s life, but that’s not the only reason she thinks the show is so important today.

Emily and Stacy on their wedding day. Jenny McQueen

“Knowledge and expertise and truth are taking a beating these days, but on ‘Jeopardy’ they are respected and celebrated,” Emily said. “And though ‘Jeopardy’ is just a game show, being able to point to the continuing salience of those things is important.

“As someone who grew up alongside ‘Jeopardy,’ seeing that people could win things for being smart – or at least good at trivia – was an important message for a kid who preferred reading books to playing sports.”

Emily and Stacy still watch “Jeopardy” together often, and they love telling people the story of how they met.

Emily and Stacy on their wedding day. Jenny McQueen

“It is a really fun story to share, and other people seem to really like it too,” Emily said. “We’ve definitely had friends who tell our story to other people, even when we aren’t around.”

And when people ask that inevitable first question – “Who won?” – Emily always has a response ready.

“Stacy won on the show, but I think that I won in life.”