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Lehigh Valley professor to compete on 'Jeopardy!' this week

Lehigh University
"Jeopardy!" host Ken Jennings and Lehigh University professor Kathy Olson.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Clue: Lehigh University professor will appear on a long-running trivia show and share her love of history, word play and literature.

Answer: What is "Jeopardy!"

Kathy Olson, a journalism professor at Lehigh, fulfilled one of her dreams as a contestant on the ABC network game show now in its 40th season.

Olson appears in an episode airing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15.

Longtime fan of 'Jeopardy'

Olson has auditioned for the game show at least five times over the last 30 years.

A longtime fan, she has been watching the show since the 1970s, when Art Fleming was host for the first version of the show.

Several years ago, she met beloved "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek at one of her auditions before his death in 2020 (Trebek's last show aired in January 2021).

In 2022, Olson decided to audition again and took an online test, which was followed up by a mock game conducted on Zoom.

She says she was surprised when the show runners reached out a year later.

Olson taped the episode in April.

"I was definitely nervous but I tried to relax and just have fun," Olson said. "I made some mistakes due to nerves, I think, but overall it was a great experience. Everyone was so supportive."

She also had kind words for "Jeopardy!" host Ken Jennings, a former "Jeopardy!" winner turned permanent host in 2023.

"He was friendly," she said. "I think he’s a good host."

Olson, who will retire from Lehigh in August, is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds a a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law; a master's degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin; and a doctorate degree in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Some of her former students shared congratulatory messages on Lehigh's social media channels.

"She was such a smart, kind, engaging professor. I still recall lessons I learned in her courses. Good luck, Professor Olson!" wrote Bevin Theodore.