Clue: A Fresh Meadows resident who won $102,600 on a five-night “Jeopardy!” winning spree.
“Who is Rebecca Rider?” is correct!
Rider’s five-day reign aired on TV between March 28 and April 4.
“I was a five-day champion, but I had my butt kicked on the sixth,” Rider said. “But at least I lost to a fellow New Yorker.”
As a voracious reader, Rider is a magnet for random knowledge, with a knack for wordplay and abstract connections.
Rider correctly answered the $1,000 question in the “World Cities” category: “Once an imperial naval base, this Siberian port is headquarters to Russia’s Pacific fleet.” She did not know about Siberian ports or the Russian navy, but she had recently read a zombie apocalypse novel that happened to mention Vladivostok, so she guessed and it happened to be right.
“I read science-fiction, fantasy and anything I can get my hands on. Sometimes I read magazines if I’m waiting for something,” Rider said.
Rider said that her best category was “Constellation Translation,” which required a foundation in Latin and Greek word roots more than in astronomy.
While Rider majored in English at Hunter College, she credits her knowledge of word roots to her junior high school education at Russell Sage, in Forest Hills.
A Queens native, Rider grew up in Forest Hills and Rego Park and recently moved to Fresh Meadows with her husband. She works as a sales assistant for an office supplies dealer in Maspeth.
While Rider characterized herself as an introvert, her reign on “Jeopardy” made her an office celebrity. “For once, I liked being the subject of conversation in my office,” Rider said. “To have people asking me questions and talking to me was really cool and really weird.”
The show airing was exciting for Rider because the episodes were taped in November, but she was contractually obligated to keep all results secret for four months.
“I couldn’t even tell my mother,” Rider said. “The contract is seriously hardcore.”
Rider told friends and family to watch the first episode on March 28, but could not tell anyone that she would be on for multiple days because that would reveal that she was victorious.
“People who hadn’t spoken to my parents in years were tracking them down,” Rider said.
However, while she was on the show, Rider concentrated on waiting for host Alex Trebek to finish reading the questions before answering, rather than the publicity.
“I didn’t think about the fact that the show was broadcast to millions of viewers. I didn’t think about the studio audience. I just focused on the board, the scores and on Alex,” Rider said.
“The people behind the scenes were amazing,” she continued. “The contestant coordinators, especially Mitch, who handled the mics, really helped me to be at ease getting up on the podium.”
Rider is a contender for the Tournament of Champions, but it will depend on how well other players do during the remainder of the qualifying period.
“Alex said on air that I have a good shot, but I’m watching and keeping track,” Rider said.
She is still waiting for her $102,600 check to arrive. Once she sees how much she has left after taxes, she plans to pay off her student loans, put some away for retirement, replenish her savings, make some charitable donations, and go from there.
Much to her chagrin, the day after she lost there was a round on sports teams.
“I’m a huge sports fan, especially of women’s basketball,” Rider said.
Rider met her husband at Madison Square Garden, at a game that didn’t happen due to a power failure, 10 years ago. The couple has season tickets to see the New York Liberty and the St. John’s Red Storm.