Double 'Jeopardy!'

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Berkley attorney Kathleen Kosman is pictured with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, the 77-year-old Canada native who has been a fixture on the syndicated show since it began airing in 1984. Kosman appeared twice on the hit game show in late October, winning $22,400.

Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Area attorney overcomes odds to win on game show

By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News

Attorney Kathleen Kosman made two appearances on the popular NBC game show “Jeopardy!” late last month – with a broken leg, no less.

Kosman, 29, of Berkley, broke her leg on July 13. She had surgery on July 19, where doctors put a metal plate and a screw between her tibia and fibula. On August 1, she had her cast removed and was given a walking cast. On August 2, she flew out to Los Angeles to tape her first episode of “Jeopardy!” on August 3, which aired October 20.“When it came time for me to be on the show, the crew found a taller chair for me to sit in,” Kosman explained. “Behind the podiums are risers so that the contestants can be raised up or down, depending on their height, to make everyone look level with each other. So when it was my turn, I stood up and leaned on the podium while they raised me up high enough to sit in the taller chair, and then they wheeled the taller chair in towards the podium and locked it into place.”She returned to L.A. on August 7 to film her second appearance on “Jeopardy!” which aired October 23.

“The flight schedule was really grueling because I was in pain for the entire flight each time,” recalled Kosman. “On Monday, August 7, once I checked into the hotel again, I’m pretty sure I just went to bed at like 4 p.m. local time because I was just absolutely exhausted from the whole experience. Then on Tuesday, August 8, I went back to the studio and I got to be in one more episode.”

Despite having a broken leg, Kosman was the winning contestant on the October 20 show. She won a total of $22,400 for her two appearances. She lost to fellow Michigan resident Nan Bauer, of Norvell Township, on October 23. Bauer was a three-game champion on “Jeopardy!” She won $36,601.

“The best part of the experience was how much fun it was,” said Kosman. “All of the producers and all of the crew are so into it and they’re so nice to every contestant. You can tell they’re just having fun at work every day they film. My fellow contestants were also super excited to be there and it made it so much fun.” She added, “Winning was pretty great too, of course.”

According to Kosman, she plans to invest her winnings, something she confessed is a “very boring” answer.

“I’m a millennial who is used to having a hard time finding a job,” she said. “I’m going to save and invest the money. Once I’ve actually received the check, I’m going to meet with a financial adviser and talk about the best way to save and invest it. I haven’t gotten the check yet and I was told it can take up to 120 days after your episode airs,” she said.

Kosman spoke about meeting “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.

“Alex is exactly what you see on TV,” she said. “Every interaction I had with Alex was on television. During one break, Alex stands next to every contestant so that everyone can have their picture taken with him. Alex spent a lot of time answering audience questions during the breaks taken while filming.”

Born in Detroit, Kosman, an only child, grew up in Dearborn. A graduate of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, she earned her undergraduate degree in history and Spanish at Albion College and her juris doctor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. She passed the bar exam in 2013. Additionally, she completed a semester on the United States/Mexico border called the Border Studies Program through Earlham College in Richmond, Ind.

“We traveled around the region and spoke with different groups who worked in the area. The program tried to show us a diversity of opinions. One of the groups we met with was the Florence Project, which is a group of attorneys who provide legal and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona,” she said. “Florence, Arizona has a large immigrant detention center, and these attorneys provide necessary legal aid. I was very inspired by this group, and I wanted to become an immigration attorney.”
Currently, she works in the Southfield office of Lakeshore Legal Aid, a nonprofit law firm with 14 locations throughout Southeast Michigan. Its mission is exercising all methods of legal advocacy, training, and outreach to empower people, provide access to the legal system, and preserve the dignity of clients.

“I work at what is called the Counsel and Advocacy Law Line – or CALL. I’m one of the attorneys who answers the phone and talks to people about their legal issues,” said Kosman. “This is going to sound cliché, but I really did become a lawyer to help people. So for me, the really gratifying experience is when I’m able to help someone. The most challenging part of being an attorney for me is when I have to explain to clients that the law is not on their side.”

She auditioned for “Jeopardy!” in 2015. According to Kosman, the first thing potential contestants have to do is take the “Jeopardy!” Online Quiz, where applicants must answer approximately 50 questions within a 5-second time frame per question.
Kosman took the test twice.

“It’s somewhat frustrating because you’re never given a score. If you get over a certain score – and nobody knows what that score is – you have about a 50/50 chance at getting an in-person audition,” explained Kosman.

She got the call for an in-person audition and flew out to Kansas City, Mo. There, Kosman had to take another written test. After that, potential contestants are divided into groups of three and play a game of “Jeopardy!” for several minutes. 

“Then the producers ask you questions about yourself, because they’re looking for people who are fun to watch on television. The producers are all very nice and the audition process is really fun. They told us if you haven’t heard from a producer 18 months or so after your audition, you should probably just try again. But then again, I got the phone call two years after auditioning, so who really knows?” recalled Kosman.

Her advice to people applying to be a contestant on “Jeopardy!” is to avoid having a broken leg.

“Overall, the whole experience was really great,” said Kosman. “I’m very glad I got to do it, but I wish that I had been completely healthy at the time.”
 

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