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Fort Smith woman competes on Jeopardy!

Melissa Woodall will appear and compete on the quiz show Jeopardy! Friday, Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Fort Smith native Melissa Woodall is competing on the newest episode of Jeopardy! airing Friday, Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m. 

“It is more challenging on the show for real than on your couch,” said Melissa Woodall. 

Melissa Woodall is a lifelong jeopardy fan who's dreamed of being a contestant. But it wasn’t a possibility until recently.  

“I didn’t most of my life have jobs most of my life where I had the flexibility to go do it and then I became a homemaker…all the opportunity in the world,” she said. 

After passing several rounds of online tests she was put in line with other potential contestants. A year went by before she got the call it was her turn and as you can imagine she was excited.  

“I took the call in Target on my cell phone and I had to sit down on the floor in the middle of the bread department and I was like, 'sorry guys this is important,'” she said. 

Friends and family of Woodall gathered at Papa’s Pub and Pizzeria on Garrison Avenue to watch her compete. Papa’s is the place to be for Jeopardy. In fact, they have pretty strict house rules when the show is on. 


“From 4:30 to 5:00, no cell phone usage, the jukebox goes off, and we try to remain as silent as possible during Jeopardy. It’s been going that way for 20 years. We have groups of people that come in every day to watch Jeopardy and it’s really turned into a bid deal, it’s a lot of fun,” said Tim McNally. 

General Manager Tim McNally says if your cell phone happens to ring during Jeopardy, you have to buy your side of the bar a round of beers.  

Woodall walked away with $1,000 and didn’t advance to the next episode. However, she considers her July trip to California a great experience 

“If you are at home sitting on the couch thinking 'I could do this.' Take the test, what do you go to lose? Give it a shot, you are going to have fun,” she said.

The now Jeopardy alum says her time on the Northside High School quiz bowl team prepared her for the moment.  

“I didn’t do a ton of preparation because I figured, I’m 43 years old, at this point I know it or I don’t. There were a few things I brushed up on. I just kind of prepared myself mentally for the experience to embrace the joy of doing it,” she said. 

Joy, she's excited to share with others. 

“I’ve got a story for life. You know when you do those little ice breakers and you have to say something about yourself, well I finally have something to say. It was so much fun,” she said. 

Woodall ended up in third place on today’s show. The final Jeopardy question that broke her was about Disney songs which she admits to knowing nothing about.  

Woodall, who serves as the Transit Advisory Commissioner for Fort Smith, hosted a watch party at Papa's Pub and Pizzeria for others to come and watch her as she made her game show debut.

The City of Fort Smith expressed its congratulations and excitement within the community for Woodall and encouraged residents to attend the watch party.

WHAT IS… a Fort Smith woman on Jeopardy! How cool is this?? Melissa Woodall is going to be a contestant on the game...

Posted by 5NEWS Erika Thomas on Friday, September 16, 2022

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