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Thanaporn romps to Jeopardy! win

South Boston News
Former resident turns in dominant performance in game show debut / July 07, 2014
By the time the TV game show’s final round rolled around, former Halifax resident Kay Thanaporn had drained the jeopardy out of Jeopardy!

That’s what happens when players jump so far in front of the competition they can’t lose at the end.

Thanaporn, the daughter of Dr. Prasit and Bunleng Thanaporn of Halifax, turned in a dominant performance in Friday night’s episode of Jeopardy!, the long-running syndicated TV game show that demands quick thinking and the ability by contestants to phrase their answers in the form of questions.

Thanaporn, now living in Decatur, Ga., left very little to question with her performance Friday night, her first appearance on the show. After taking a huge lead at the end of the first round — she had $9,600 on the board to the zoom ahead of the next closest player, with $3,800 — the health care consultant and Halifax County High School graduate showed no nervousness as the stakes mounted for the next round.

“Kay has gotten off to a very fast start!” chirped the host of the show, gamemaster Alex Trebek.

Although her lead diminished somewhat as the question-in-the-form-of-an-answer pace continued, Thanaporn practically sealed the win with the correct answer to a $5,000 Daily Double question about one of the six wives of Henry VIII: Jane Seymour.

If you were thinking “Anne Boleyn” — because that’s the only wife of Henry you remember from class way back when — you’d be wrong.

Thanaporn aced the final Jeopardy round question, about the mythical location of a 1933 novel — Shangri-La — to end the game with $33,199, well ahead of the second place contestant with $13,000.

She will continue playing as Jeopardy! airs across the nation tonight, July 8.

In a Facebook message after the show, Thanaporn gave a shout-out to her friends back in her hometown, vowing to make Halifax County proud.

She stays in touch with the folks back home, and visits Halifax regularly, for holiday stays with her parents and to make it to Charlottesville for U.Va. football games.

"Since the news of my appearance on 'Jeopardy!' got out, the outpouring of support has been quite overwhelming," said Thanaporn via e-mail this weekend, "and I am grateful for all the kind words and well wishes I've received from friends and acquaintances, especially those who know my family from back home."

Her proud fans include her parents: ““We’re very excited and we talked with her since watching the show on Friday, and she of course, is very excited,” said Dr. Thanaporn this weekend.

Thanaporn got her start in the quiz bowl arena as a former member of the Halifax County High School ACE team, an experience which helped her to train for the Jeopardy competition. She was captain of the English ACE team and was the team’s MVP her senior year.

After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Virginia where she received her BA in English. She later earned her masters in business administration and public health.

Each January, the show offers an online test to those who want to participate, and Thanaporn responded. In February, she got a a phone call asking her to come to Los Angeles in March for an opportunity to be on the show. In May after been invited to audition, she drove to Nashville for a tryout which was a 50 question written test and an interview.

The "Jeopardy!" episodes now airing were taped back in March — "they tape waaaaay in advance," wrote Thanaporn in her e-mail — "so it's actually been a few months since I was in LA," she continued. And how long did she hold on to the "Jeopardy!" crown? Tune in to find out.

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