Clue: “Jeopardy!‘s biggest longtime fans congregated here last week, the Western Hemisphere’s highest outdoor sky deck.” Answer: “What is Edge at Hudson Yards?”

Edge at Hudson Yards hosted the inaugural Jeopardy! Fan Experience on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards. This visit to New York City was the first stop on a seven-stop nationwide tour to celebrate the beloved show’s 60th Diamond Anniversary. The kick-off affair was also a return to the city where Jeopardy! was born. Though the show now tapes on the Alex Trebek stage at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, the original series was broadcast from Rockefeller Center. Here, we recap our night at the Jeopardy! Fan Experience—which included a live taping of the “Inside Jeopardy!” podcast featuring interviews with popular contestants—and reflect on the game show’s New York beginnings!

Jeopardy Live graphic on a television screen with the NYC skyline in the backgroun

Executive producer Michael Davies and producer Sarah Whitcomb Foss hosted the Jeopardy! Fan Experience. Davies said New York City has played a huge role in the show’s history, noting the seemingly infinite number of Jeopardy! clues that could be seen from the building. Foss added that the first episode was recorded just two miles from Edge, near where many of the biggest game shows were based.

“I said early on we’re going make it elevated, it’s going to be an elevated experience for everybody, and then Hudson Yards called and said, ‘Hey, do you want to do something at the Edge?'” Davies said. “I live just down the street, and I came up to see it, and I guess this is elevated.”

Jeopardy! debuted on March 30th, 1964 at 11:30 am (as seen on the Master Broadcast Report from NBC pictured below). It was shot at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Center with Art Fleming as the charismatic host and Don Pardo as the announcer. The gameplay in these first episodes was generally the same as it is today. There was a Jeopardy round and a Double Jeopardy round, contestants gave the answers in the form of a question, extra money could be won with Daily Doubles, and the show ended with a Final Jeopardy clue. Mary Cabell Eubanks won the first official Jeopardy! game, taking home $350.

Production sheet for first jeopardy episode
Courtesy of Jeopardy!

The idea for the reverse question-and-answer format came from a conversation between show creator Merv Griffin and his wife, Julann. Television game shows were plagued by cheating scandals in the 1950s. To revive the genre, Merv and his wife thought, why not give the contestants the answers, and have them come up with the questions?

At the Jeopardy! Fan Experience, producers showed the audience photographs of one of the original scripts from the first episode in March 1964, which looked surprisingly similar in structure to today’s shows. Foss said Art Fleming was introduced as the “star of Jeopardy!” though Alex Trebek chose to be introduced as the “host,” a tradition current host Ken Jennings has continued.

Jeopardy! Script
Courtesy of Jeopardy!

The game show was a hit from the start and ran for over a decade. However, a shift to an earlier timeslot caused ratings to drop and the show was canceled in 1975. After a move to California, the show was revived for a short run in 1978. It wasn’t until 1984, with a fresh-faced host, Alex Trebek, that the show would start its historic run that continues today.

At the fan experience, producers outlined exclusive announcements including that any competitors in Kids Week, the Teen Tournament, or College Jeopardy! can come back and play in the syndicated show.

“I want to see the very best Jeopardy! players competing on that Jeopardy! stage, whether or not they have played once,” Davies said. “I’ve always thought there’s something remarkable like, what if the NBA cleared every roster every season and said you played one season, you had your season. Now, LeBron, no good, you’re not coming back. We’re putting 15 new players on every single roster.”

Additionally, the producers announced Amy Schneider will be the sixth and final player on Jeopardy! Masters season 2 alongside Jeopardy! greats James Holzhauer (last year’s Masters champion), Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, Victoria Groce, and Yogesh Raut.

“We want someone with a great following. We want someone who people have clearly shown that they root for and can build a very wide coalition of fans,” Davies said. “Thirdly, I love sports. I love a redemption story. I love someone who feels like they just didn’t quite do it the last time they were on the Alex Trebek stage during Masters.”

The event later featured guest appearances by Matt Amodio, who won 38 consecutive games, and Mattea Roach, who had a 23-game streak. Roach said they haven’t made any flashcards in preparation for the Masters tournament, which films this week — a reference to an exchange last year with Jeopardy! champion Buzzy Cohen. They added that the tournament allowed the contestants to develop a tight bond.

Jeopardy! Champions at Fan Experience at Edge in NYC
Jeopardy! contestants Mattea Roach and Matt Amodio (center) with producers Michael Davies (left) and Sarah Whitcomb Foss (right)

Amodio said during the panel that he’s still preparing to take on Holzhauer, whom he defeated last year in a game. He said that while it’s hard to balance Jeopardy! with many other life commitments, he’s enjoyed his new life in New York.

“The pop culture keeps changing, the artists and the TikTokers from a year ago are all different,” Amodio said. “I wish they just stopped doing that. But I really don’t want to get a question wrong when the stakes are high that I feel like I would have gotten two years ago.”

The next portion of the event included “Celebrity Jeopardy!” finalist Katie Nolan, who works as a sports television personality. Nolan said she tries to watch every show episode, adding that while competing on the show, she learned it was a buzzer game requiring precise timing. She also brought the audience back to a Jeopardy! episode in which she messed up her Final Jeopardy! wager and tied her opponent instead of winning outright, after which she won the tiebreaker. She recalled her final against Mo Rocca and Lisa Ann Walter.

Katie Nolan at Jeopardy! Fan Experience at Edge in NYC

When asked how she would prepare for the show if she were to go on again, she joked she would study wagering tactics, which she said were “almost like with analytics in football.” She continued, “I got to get better literature when I got to read more books, but also just like, know who wrote which one.”

The third portion included an interview with Jeopardy! host and winner of 74 games in a row Ken Jennings. The producers noted that Jennings quickly rose to the occasion as host with the help of the staff’s patience and training, though he’s still learning to perfect his craft and get better with the numbers side. He said he’s enjoyed helping nervous participants get through the games and have fun, assisting people with “that deer in headlights feeling.”

Ken Jennings at Jeopardy! Fan Experience at Edge in NYC

“Last year’s Masters was something else. When you’re contested in a very closely fought stressful Jeopardy! game, you’re kind of enjoying it,” Jennings said. “But a big part of your brain cannot enjoy it because you’re putting your nervous system through something crazy in a high-pressure situation like that. I find that now that I’m hosting I can enjoy these high-pressure situations stress-free.”

Jennings also praised Trebek for his “flawlessness” and “presence of mind,” such that he almost never made a mistake. He said Trebek would come out onstage “perfectly manicured and ready for air,” which Jennings aspires to achieve.

The producers mentioned the show is developing Jeopardy! bar trivia, which ticket holders at the event tested out with Ken Jennings hosting. Over 100 players were able to participate despite some technical difficulties. The producers said they hope to roll out bar trivia starting in the fall. The Diamond Celebration continues through December, with more nationwide stops. Sign up for the Jeopardy! newsletter for news about upcoming events!

Next, check out The Top 8 Observation Decks in NYC!