Murder, she wrote


First Posted: 10/4/2014

Murder, she wrote.

That could describe both mystery author Agatha Christie and “Jeopardy!” winner Elisa Korb.

Murder was the answer to the winning question for the Misericordia University professor on her first night as a game show contestant and Christie was the category.

When Korb insists that she really had no strategy to win the game show, she means it. The Misericordia University professor was a contestant on the syndicated game show Monday night, beating two returning champions. She went on to win her second game Tuesday night, but lost on Wednesday’s show.

As a matter of fact, Korb’s strategic move of betting all her winnings in Final Jeopardy in her first day of competition was motivated by hunger — but not because she was hungry for the title of champion, just hunger for food. “I risked it all because I felt that I had nothing to lose,” she said. “And, of course, I was tired and hungry. I thought, ‘Here I am against two returning champions, I’ll just go for broke.”’

It helped, of course, that Korb is a huge Agatha Christie fan. So, when she saw her category, she was happy, but still didn’t consider herself a shoe-in for the win as she was in second place. “I loved Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I think it was supposed to be called Murder on the Nile.”

She thought of that title when she wrote Murder as her question to the answer “In the 400-page book ‘Agatha Christie A to Z, entries beginning with this six-letter word start on page 224 and end on page 238.”

“It was the only six letter word that popped into my head, but I still wasn’t 100 percent positive it was right,” she said. “I felt I had a 50-50 shot to win. I wasn’t confident at all. I wagered recklessly, because it was a game. I played the game like I would play Monopoly. And I bet with Monopoly money.”

Korb had barely 10 minutes to savor her win as a first-time “Jeopardy!” champion before she was back in front of the camera competing again to defend her crown.

She originally auditioned for “Jeopardy!” two years ago, but was unable to fly to California to compete because she was in the process of moving to the area for her Misericordia job. She was contacted this summer to appear on the show.

Korb resides in Bethlehem and commutes to Dallas each day.

She literally had two minutes to change her clothes and receive a quick touch up from the studio makeup artist before she was facing host Alex Trebek again with more questions for his answers. “There literally is just a 10-minute turnover between the tapings,” Korb said. “It was rough. I had already been there 4-1/2 hours and hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch.”

Korb actually watched her first show earlier that morning since someone sent her a link to a video of it that was already posted on YouTube.

She watched the show again with her parents Jerry and Elaine Korb, who also reside in Bethlehem. “It was interesting to watch since I didn’t remember it the way it happened,” she said. “But I felt awkward watching it since I am not competitive at all.”

While the journey to “Jeopardy!” took a series of twists and turns after a two-year audition, so did the taping as Korb competed against the unlikelihood of facing two returning champions. Korb had a slow start in the first show. After staying in third place, she made a move to second place in the middle of the show. She had expressed some frustration with the buzzer in her ability to answer the questions.

The reaction from friends and students has been an interesting process in her journey as well. “The students were great,” she said. “They were supportive and made me feel wonderful.”

But fame has its drawbacks. Korb received an overwhelming number of Friend requests on her Facebook page and an equal number of inquiries for LinkedIn.

“I also got a lot of emails from people I either haven’t spoken to in 20 years or who I don’t know at all,” she said.

As for the prize money, Korb hasn’t seen any of the $38,100 in winnings and still isn’t sure of how much of that sum she will eventually be able to call her own after taxes. She was told that she would get her winnings within 120 days of the first episode airing.

She plans on using some money to pay bills. “I know that sounds really glamorous,” Korb joked.

And what is left will be used to fund some trips to Europe to do research for a book she wants to write as well as pay for publishing of that book.

But don’t plan on seeing Korb on any more game shows in the future. “I definitely wouldn’t try out again,” she said. “It was a positive experience, but it was very stressful. I’m just not the competitive type. It was a game to me. But there were certain personality types who I played against who were very competitive. I really had no strategy at all.”

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