Calgary woman who learned English from gameshows makes dream appearance on 'Jeopardy!'
TORONTO -- A Calgary woman who learned English by watching TV gameshows as a child has had a dream come true by appearing on “Jeopardy!” Tuesday night.
Kristyna Ng, who came to Canada from China as an eight-year-old, credits shows like “Jeopardy!,” hosted by Canadian Alex Trebek, with helping her learn the language.
Now 30 years later, she can check an appearance on the classic gameshow off her bucket list.
“It's been a very important part of my life, ‘Jeopardy!,’” Ng told CTV News ahead of her appearance on the show.
“My English skills were non-existent, so very, very basic -- let's say nil. It is a great tool to learn about our culture, our history and international relations.”
“Jeopardy!” was on TV five nights a week when Ng was growing up and she faithfully played along to improve her English.
“When I first got started… I wouldn't get any right but I would keep listening and practicing,” she said.
Ng went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration and is now a corporate strategist for the City of Calgary.
Last spring she took the “Jeopardy!” online test and from that was invited to regional auditions in Seattle. She was then asked to a show taping in Los Angeles in December 2019, which aired tonight.
After a slow start, Ng’s game improved after the first commercial break when she took the lead.
Topics on the show included the Iron Curtain, pop culture, actor Danny DeVito and time zones.
Ng’s game got better when she got one of two daily doubles, but was later penalized $4,000 for “flipping syllables” in her pronunciation of the surname of Polish statesman Lech Walesa.
Going into the final “Jeopardy!” round, Ng was in second place with $9,200, just $600 behind the leader, only to be pipped at the post with the last question.
Ng claims winning was not the goal and getting on the show was gift enough.
“Never would I have imagined being eight years old coming to Canada, learning to speak English and then making it all the way through. This is a blessing,” she said.
And being in the studio with Trebek was even better than she imagined.
Trebek, 79, has hosted “Jeopardy!” since 1984 and last year revealed he is battling stage four pancreatic cancer.
“What an inspirational story and an inspirational Canadian,” she said.
“He was so humble, so genuine.”
To prepare for the show Ng studied subjects she considered her weaknesses: sports, music, opera and American history. And she knew she had to be fast with the buzzer.
“Most of the contestants know most of the answers most of the time so this (clicker) was make it or break it,” she said.
She credits “Jeopardy!” with broadening her general knowledge, too.
“It really allows me to be a more global citizen beyond just speaking English,” she said.
“To know that I could come here as a first generation immigrant and integrate into society and be a fully participating Canadian and to appear on the show with one of the greatest Canadians of all time is a miracle.”
Ng, a seasoned traveller, revealed on the show that she has visited around 80 countries, with Egypt her favourite so far.