Who is Diana Peloquin, Alex? Michigan Law student dethrones 'Jeopardy' champ


 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
Arthur Chu looked unstoppable in his recent 12-day “Jeopardy” spree in which he had racked up $297,200.
Then he faced down a 3L student at the University of Michigan Law School.
And it was all over.
Diana Peloquin says it was a dream come true to appear on her favorite game show, and toppling the controversial champ just added to the fun.
And she says Chu doesn’t deserve the backlash he received by using a game plan in which he jumped around the board looking for Daily Doubles.
“Arthur played to win, but he also had a really solid knowledge base and he was lightning quick with the buzzer,” said Peloquin, 28, who is also working on a graduate degree in social work at U-M.
She noted that Chu wasn’t the first player to use his technique, which she said was actually developed by Donn Rubin and used by Chuck Forrest while they were Michigan Law students.
Peloquin started the process of appearing on the show by taking the online “Jeopardy” test, which was followed by an in-person audition in Detroit.
Being a student meant she didn't have much time to study.
“I’ve read a lot and always had a knack for trivia, so I decided to just rest on my existing knowledge for those rounds,” she recalled.
But when she got an invitation for a taping, she had to turn it down because she was enrolled in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the law school and was scheduled for a trial (later adjourned) on one of the taping days.
Luckily, the show called her a few weeks later with another date, which she happily accepted. Though she wasn’t able to study as much as she would have liked, she did play through several seasons’ worth of past games available on the website j-archive.com.
“Though the show doesn’t repeat questions, you learn what categories come up often, and which are your weaknesses,” she said. “I also read some trivia books and Wikipedia lists. But really, I did not devote anywhere close to the amount of time I would have liked to preparing.”
Fortunately, she got to sit in the audience and watch Chu play in seven games over two days before her name was drawn.
“That definitely helped me figure out his strategy,” she recalled. “I thought Arthur’s games were incredibly entertaining to watch from the audience—and maybe even more on TV, when you can see more of his facial expressions. I personally loved his style, and did not feel intimidated by it like some other contestants seemed to be.”
She even went up to Chu at the end of the first taping day and said she hoped she got to play against him, and that it would be a privilege no matter the outcome.
 “By my show, I was determined to beat him at his own game,” she said, “and it was a lot of fun.”  
Beating Chu got down to the fact that she was the only one of the three who knew that George VI was the last male monarch who had not previously been Prince of Wales.
“I would consider British Monarchy one of my strong categories, but George VI’s succession might have just been fresh in my mind because I’d recently watched The King’s Speech,” she said.  “I figured that had to be the right scenario to fit the clue.” 
She watched the show with friends from the law school. Because she’d signed a confidentiality agreement, she wasn’t allowed to tell them how it ended.
“It was a really big secret to keep, but I really enjoyed the air of mystery, knowing how excited and surprised everyone would be at the end,” she said. 
“Jeopardy” tapes five episodes in a day, with two tapings in a row.
After she beat Chu, there was a lunch break.
“It was just long enough for the adrenaline to wear off and for my nerves to get the better of me,” says Peloquin, whose reign ended after one episode.  
What’s the secret to being selected for the show?
“Well, the first big hurdle is doing well on the online test,” she said. “After that, at the in-person audition, I think the key is to be ready to show who you are, not just that you know lots of trivia.”
The energetic contestant search notices those who share their enthusiasm and engage with them, she said, adding:  “The show features all types of people, and they want to see that your personality, whatever it is, will shine through under pressure.”
She has no insider scoop on Alex Trebek.
“It surprises a lot of people that the contestants don’t have any interaction with Alex Trebek beyond what you see on television,” she said. “This, plus a lot of other rules, are in place to keep things fair and prevent any suspicion of cheating.”
People also are surprised to learn that contestants have to pay for their own flights and hotel rooms.
The Stafford, Virginia native will graduate from Michigan Law in December, so she’ll use her $15,700 winnings towards her last semester expenses. She plans to devote her career to child welfare.
“As a future public interest attorney,” she said, “anything I can do to minimize my loans seems like a smart plan.”
Peloquin is also reserving some money to take a trip after she takes the bar exam. She knows she’ll be nervous that day—but doesn’t expect to be as anxious as she was during those first few musical notes at the start of the show.
“I’ve taken lots of tests in my life before, even if they weren’t as high stakes as law exams,” she recalled. “But I’d never been on ‘Jeopardy’ before!”