Maurice Ayache, a 29-year-old engineering graduate student from La Jolla, recently competed on the quiz show, "Jeopardy!"
A taping of the show will air at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 10 on KNSD-TV. (Check with your cable or satellite provider for the specific channel.)
A longtime fan of the show, Ayache was invited to be a contestant after filling out an online test in January of last year. He drove to Los Angeles for an audition in August, then returned for the taping on Dec. 14, the day after his birthday.
"It was an experience of a lifetime," said Ayache, a New York native who is working toward his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at UC San Diego. "I've been watching the show since I was a kid. It's really just kind of unreal when you’re actually there. ... It's much harder than watching from your couch. The time you have to think of an answer seems much shorter."
Ayache said Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was a nice guy, though not overly chatty with contestants during breaks.
“Basically during the commercials he kinds of answers questions from the audience ... telling different stories about the history of producing the show and his own life," Ayache said. "They have a pretty strict separation between the contestants and everyone else. ... We were not allowed to talk to Trebek when (not taping) ... to keep anything inappropriate from happening."