This Los Angeles landmark recently had one of its employees win approximately $53,000 on “Jeopardy!”, America’s favorite quiz show. What are the La Brea Tar Pits at the George C. Page Museum?
That is correct. The museum’s guest relations manager, Lauren Girard, compiled two victories on the game show in November. The three shows in which she appeared aired in March.
Girard was the first employee at the Tar Pits to appear on “Jeopardy!”, and her coworkers at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County thoroughly enjoyed her appearance on the show. She said the museum was discussed extensively throughout her three appearances.
“They thought it was fun,” Girard said of the response at work. “I think we were all pretty excited to get publicity for the museum.”
With her victories, success on “Jeopardy!” is becoming a family tradition. Girard said her uncle appeared on the show 15 years ago, and won five times (there was a limit on victories back then). He also came back for the show’s Tournament of Champions.
“He did amazingly well,” Girard said. “Now, we’re wondering who the next person in the family will decide to go on.”
It was actually her uncle’s experience on “Jeopardy!” that led Girard to try out for the show. She said the family talked about his wins for a long time afterward, and one day while chatting with a friend, she decided to give it a shot.
“Eventually, I just took the test, and it panned out,” Girard added.
She said the test consisted of random trivia, something she excels at — sometimes to a fault. The Los Angeles native said such skills have to be used in moderation, for fear of losing an audience with an overabundance of facts.
“It helps for bar trivia nights, but it’s just one of those things where I remember random things,” Girard said. “But finding my keys is kind of a different story.”
At the George C. Page Museum, the random knowledge comes in handy. Girard said one of the more fascinating facts about the Tar Pits is that for every herbivore staffers find, they find nine carnivores. This is because the trapped herbivores would make a lot of noise and attract carnivores, which are pack animals, she said. The guest relations manager also said the museum has 3.5 million objects on display, but that should double with the museum’s Project 23, an ongoing excavation effort.
“And it’s all been found right here, which I think is the coolest part,” Girard added.
For the “Jeopardy!” test, she had to go beyond her Tar Pit knowledge, answering questions about chemistry, the Thirteen Colonies and pop singer Katy Perry.
“It’s really, really random, and it’s just kind of luck of draw on what questions you get,” Girard said, adding that the show takes the top test percentages and invites those people for interviews to ensure they have “some semblance of a personality.”
The 29-year-old local said she was the only interviewee who was not a scientist, and she was the youngest person there by 20 years. However, those two factors likely played a role in her being accepted for the show.
“Again, I just lucked out,” Girard said. “They look for diversity a lot of the time.”
On the show, she was aggressive, betting big during the Final Jeopardy! rounds. Even if a competitor does not know the answer to a particular question, the clue often allows he or she to make educated guesses, Girard said. She used this to her advantage.
One clue stated, “The current president in France had ancestors from this country as is evidenced by his last name.” The current president is François Hollande, so Girard was able to determine that he had ancestors from The Netherlands.
“That was one of the more difficult ones, and I think I was the only one who got it right,” she said.
Girard said the best game plan is to “just have fun with it.”
“No matter what you’re doing, it’s free money,” she added. “Even if you completely bomb and come in last place, you’ve still done better than at least ninety-five percent of the people who have tried out for the show,”
Girard said the set is pretty laid back, though the competitions made for a long day. She enjoyed interacting with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who has hosted the show since 1984.
“He’s fun,” she said. “He’s really great. He likes to talk to the audience during commercial breaks.”
Girard said Trebek was surprised by her style of play, because women do not traditionally bet aggressively.
“I did, because who cares, right?” she added.
While Girard has not yet received her winnings, she plans to save a lot of it and take her best friend, who is a bride-to-be, to Europe — in lieu of a bachelorette party.
She had only worked at the George C. Page Museum for three weeks before competing on the show. Now a six month veteran, Girard continues to enjoy the work she does at the museum, a site she had been visiting since she was two years old.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s just one of my favorite places. …It’s lovely, and it’s amazing how few local people have been here before.”
The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits is located at 5801 Wilshire Blvd.
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