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Who is Jesse Matheny?

For about a dozen years, Huntington native Jesse Matheny would take the on-line test to try to secure a contestant spot on “Jeopardy.” His efforts paid off on April 26, when he appeared on the long-running, syndicated game show. Matheney won Wednesday night’s competition, earning $2.600  in prize money. He finished third on Thursday, earning another $1,000. “I have been a lifelong Jeopardy fan,” said Matheny, a Huntington County native. “There exists a home video of me dancing to the ‘Jeopardy Think Music’ when I was around 1 year old. “I watched it growing up whenever I could and surprised my parents sometimes with the answers I would get correct. “My mom always encouraged me to apply to be on the kids’ version, and then the teen version of the show, but I never took the online test until I was in college.” Qualifying to be a contestant is a rather drawn-out process. “The first step is to take the online test,” Matheny said. “It used to only be offered at scheduled intervals throughout the year, so you’d have to wait for the announcement and then register to take it.” In recent years, producers moved to an “Anytime” online test, which hopeful contestants are only able to take once per  Cont. on Pg. 3. year. “I took the test in March of 2022,” Matheny said. “You never get your results from the test; the only way you know for sure that you passed is if you get an invitation to the second step, which is another online test.” Previously, the second test was a combined in-person test and mock game played in a hub city. However, that all changed in 2020 when it became virtual. “I took the second test in June, and again, the only way you know you did well enough to advance is if you get an invite to that mock game/interview with the casting director,” Matheny explained. “I was invited to do that in November, and at that point everyone on the call – nine people – were notified that we were in the official contestant pool. “All that means, however, is that you could get ‘the call’ to be on the show anytime between that day and 18 months from that day. It was totally out of my hands at that point, but the call came just after the new year and it was an incredibly exciting moment. To finally to get the invitation to doemthing I had been working at, and watching religiously, for more than 10 years was very vindicating.” Matheny was in Los Angeles the week of Feb. 6. Generally, five shows are filmed in one day, so each of the episodes, including Matheny’s, was filmed on Feb. 8. A 2010 Huntington North graduate, Matheny and his wife, Diedre, their young daughter and their dog now live in Fort Wayne. His parents, youngest brother and other relatives still live in Huntington. He formerly taught social studies at Huntington North. “I transitioned out of education several years ago and am currently a Customer Success Specialist for a dialysis company called Outset Medical,” Matheny said. “Their focus is a dialysis machine called Tablo that is designed to be ‘all-in-one’ but also allows dialysis patients to complete their treatments at home, so they don’t have to spend hours and hours in a clinic or hospital each week.” As a Customer Success Specialist, Matheny helps walk hospitals, clinics and patients through all the necessary steps between purchasing the devices and beginning treatment on Tablo. “It’s incredibly rewarding as I get to build relationships with people all over the country but also see how freeing it can be for dialysis patients at home, because it really does give them back control of their lives,” he said. Matheny called his time on “Jeopardy” an unbelievable experience. “That day flew by and was over in what felt like the blink of an eye,” he said, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I want to thank my wife, my parents and siblings and my friends for all of their support and indulgence of my nerdiness and lifelong love of learning. “I also want to thank all of my teachers who challenged and encouraged me during my academic career. I would not be here without them, and I hope I have made you all proud.”