VWU alumna competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

Molly (Long) Mastantuono, a Virginia Wesleyan University alumna from the class of 1998, recently made an appearance on the game show “Jeopardy!” on Feb. 4. As a former student, she was tremendously excited to represent VWU. 

During this episode, she answered 9 questions correctly and 5 incorrectly. Mastanuano finished in third place with $2,399 after “Final Jeopardy.” The “Final Jeopardy” category was “Behind the Disney Attraction” and the final clue was “the ‘Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’ utilizes technology developed by this company founded in 1853.” The correct answer was Otis. Molly’s guess was General Electric.

In an interview with Mastantuono, she spoke highly of her achievements at VWU, as she was a former Editor-in-Chief of The Marlin Chronicle, involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) for all four years, a resident assistant (RA), a Wesleyan Scholar and even traveled to Westminster in Oxford.

Mastantuono was ecstatic to go on “Jeopardy!” and was beyond surprised when she got the call. 

“It was surreal. I wasn’t expecting it at all. First I did the online test, then there were two other rounds where we were taking a test online,” Mastantuono said. “Then, the next tier was to take another test but with your video camera on because this is during the pandemic, obviously. And so that they could, you know, see that you weren’t having any outside assistance to answer the questions,” Mastantuono said. 

While reflecting on her experience on the show, she discussed the question and answer process. “We were all there and we then just had to use the clicker pens to answer or buzz-in the questions. It was a couple months after that when they called and I just kind of like ‘oh, well this is cool.’ I made it this far and didn’t really think much about it. Then, I got the call and they were like ‘oh hey, do you want to be on Jeopardy?’ I said ‘Sure,’” Mastantuono said.

Mastantuono had a specific goal for her time on “Jeopardy!” “I didn’t want to make it to “Final Jeopardy,” and I didn’t want to set a new record for negative numbers, right? But I thought of it more as a bucket list kind of experience. You know,  it wasn’t even about winning, sure I would’ve loved to win my game. I don’t think anybody goes on to a game show or any kind of game without wanting to be the winner. It was so much greater than that,” Mastantuono said. 

Additionally, she was truly on cloud nine to be invited to “Jeopardy!” and really enjoyed her time with the other contestants. “Being able to connect with the other contestants was really, really fun. There’s a group of us that still have a group text,” Mastantuono said. 

Mastantuono was surprised to get close with contestants that were mere strangers and contestants from other “Jeopardy!” shows. “Just having had that experience is amazing and getting to meet Mayim Chaya Bialik and I got to do the chicken dance with her in between a commercial break, because that was one of the questions I got wrong. But it was just really fun and I think anyone who has just wanted to try new things or show off a little of what they learned while they were at Wesleyan, I’d recommend it,” Mastantuono said.

Although Mastantuono didn’t win Jeopardy, she gave praise to the other contestants and everyone who helped the show run smoothly. However, she was completely aware of the difficulty in winning “Jeopardy!” “I guess you do the best, right? You just always give it your best effort and I knew that going into that here. There’s so many variables for who will win the game,” Mastantuono said. 

Mastantuono currently works at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and she has two daughters. She graduated summa cum laude from VWU in 1998 with a Bachelors of Arts in English. She is proud of her experience on Jeopardy and regrets nothing about it. She recommends the show to everyone here at VWU.

Joshua Heller