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Wilhelm says she’s not upset about her one word mistake


PARISHVILLE - Now that she has had more than 24 hours, more than three months really, to let her last career Jeopardy! response of “Nerf gun” instead of “Nerf ball” sink in, Cori Wilhelm is reflecting on the experience from the studio setting to her living room atmosphere watching herself on national television.

For her television premiere on Friday night, Ms. Wilhelm had a party and watched the show with her friends and family. She said that the room erupted in cheers every time her television self gave a correct response.

“It was great to hear ‘Parishville, N.Y. on national television - being such a small town, one doesn’t hear that very often. For the second episode, I watched with just my boyfriend and my dogs,” she said.

Watching Friday and Monday’s episodes, the librarian was very surprised by how calm she looked in front of the cameras.

“Of course, no one likes to see themselves on camera, but I was surprised that my nervousness didn’t show more,” Ms. Wilhelm said. “I was physically shaking for the first part of both episodes, but I couldn’t see it on the screen. I didn’t even remember most of the questions afterward because the game moved so quickly while taping.”

The Parishville resident answered multiple clues correctly during both game’s first rounds, something that gave her confidence, she said. She added that the indecisiveness of whether to ring in or not was a challenge and on many of the easier questions it was a matter of luck whether she could ring in before her opponents.

The daughter of Llona and Fred Wilhelm also explained that she was more confident going into episode two, but when the lights were on and the cameras began filming, nerves and anxiety returned.

One of the few times a competitor can relinquish the handheld buzzer is during a Daily Double answer. Through her two appearances, Ms. Wilhelm was grasping the buzzer for nearly the entire time though.

“While it would have been good to find a Daily Double (and to keep the other contestants from finding them), I was a little relieved to not have to make the on-the-spot wagering decision,” Ms. Wilhelm said.

On Friday evening, Ms. Wilhelm was caught in a tight battle with her competition. When the Final Jeopardy category of “Countries of the World” was revealed, she immediately wrote down the correct question.

“When I saw that the category for Final Jeopardy was ‘Countries of the World,’ I was relieved. Geography and History are my stronger categories, and I had a good feeling about it. I instantly wrote down the correct response, but then had the remainder of the time to second-guess it. I felt pretty good about Indonesia, but there were a few other countries that came to mind, and it kept me wondering until our answers were revealed,” she said.

With an extra $19,001 to utilize, Ms. Wilhelm said that she plans to use much of her winnings on a house renovation project. She also added that when the temperatures get colder she would like to plan a small vacation.

A quick one word alteration could have led to another Jeopardy! victory for the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School graduate and a Ken Jennings-eque run was maybe not probable, but possible.

So how did the champion feel about her infamous “What is a Nerf gun response?”

“Obviously, I wasn’t happy to have come so close to coming up with the correct response, but being wrong,” Ms. Wilhelm said. “I think that while ‘Nerf Gun’ is going to haunt me for a while, I can’t be upset with my performance, and I can always say from now on that I’m a Jeopardy champion.”

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