Why Those Jeopardy! Buzzers Are Even More Anxiety-Producing Than They Look

Jeopardy! contestant Nancy Zerg puts her hands to her mouth in shock after beating champion Ken Jennings in 2004.
Jeopardy! contestant Nancy Zerg puts her hands to her mouth in shock after beating champion Ken Jennings in 2004.
Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images

Excelling at Jeopardy! isn’t just about knowing an endless array of trivia and bantering well with Alex Trebek. It’s also about having lightning-quick reflexes. There’s a reason why some contestants push their buzzer, only to have Trebek call on a competitor for the answer—and it’s all in the timing, Mashable reports.

Jeopardy! contestants can’t just hit their buzzer midway through a clue. There’s an indicator light they have to wait to see, one that only goes on when Trebek has spit out the last syllable of whatever clue he’s reading. Any button action before that point is moot.

“In the early days of the show, contestants could ring in at any time and that led to a lot of quick guesses, negative scores, and general confusion,” according to a blog on the show’s website.

These days, a Jeopardy! staffer sits offstage and monitors exactly when the host finishes reading out the clue. He or she then clicks a button to illuminate a set of blinking lights on either side of the game board, giving the contestants a visual signal to jump in if they know the answer.

The signaling device system is designed to only register the first buzz it gets after it turns on, so if you’re a split second behind your competition, all the button-pressing in the world won’t help. Based on whichever buzzer came in first, the digital system illuminates that podium. If the first contestant to respond gives an incorrect answer, the remaining two contestants get another chance to buzz in.

If you’re too quick to mash that button, though, you’ll be penalized. For anyone who buzzes in before the signal lights go on, there’s a quarter-second wait period where you’re locked out from buzzing in again, giving your competitors an edge to get to answer first. The show is accustomed to people buzzing in too early, though.

“With such critical timing and so much at stake, there’s always a chance that all three contestants may attempt to ring in before the system is armed,” the blog explains. “That’s why we instruct contestants to keep hitting the buzzer until they see the confirmation light on their podium or until Alex calls on one of them.”

Appearing on Jeopardy! already seemed stressful. Flashing lights and timing your moves within a syllable’s time? We have even more respect for the show's champs now.

[h/t Mashable]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Larry David Shared His Favorite Episode of Seinfeld

Larry David at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
Larry David at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Last week, Seth Meyers hosted a virtual Seinfeld reunion with Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander to benefit Texas Democrats. Amid all the other reminiscing, the sitcom veterans got to talking about their favorite episodes of the show.

Louis-Dreyfus answered with “The Soup Nazi,” in which her character Elaine inadvertently causes the greatest (and most high-strung) soup chef in town to shut down his shop. For Alexander, it was “The Marine Biologist,” where his character George masquerades as a marine biologist on a date and ends up rescuing a beached whale.

Larry David’s response, “The Contest,” generated almost as much conversation as the episode itself did when it aired during season 4. In it, the show’s four main characters compete to see who can abstain from self-pleasure the longest, proving themselves to be the “master of their domain.” Though the actors managed to skirt around the word masturbation for the entire episode, the concept was still pretty provocative for network television.

“This one, I didn’t even put on the board because I didn’t want them asking. I just wanted them to come and see the read-through,” David said, as InsideHook reports. “[When they did] I had worked myself up into a lather because the read-through really went great. I was watching [the network executives] and I couldn’t tell how much they liked it. But I was ready to pack the whole thing in if they didn’t let us do this show: ‘I’m quitting. I’m quitting. I’m gonna quit.’ Fortunately, they didn’t say a word. I was shocked.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Louis-Dreyfus’s trepidation about the episode lasted through the shoot. “When we were making this episode, I was convinced we were going to be shut down. I was convinced that the network was going to come in and say, ‘This is not going to work out,’” she said. Needless to say, they never did, and Louis-Dreyfus now looks back on Elaine’s participation in the contest as “a very important cultural moment for women.”

David went on to explain that “The Contest” not only helped popularize Seinfeld among viewers, but it also helped its creators carry more clout in the industry. “That show changed something about how we were perceived in television land,” he said. “It really catapulted us to another place. It moved us to another level, I think.”

[h/t InsideHook]