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Navy veteran appears on ‘Jeopardy!’ finishes 2nd to record-holder Amy Schneider

Jeopardy (Kinu Panda/WikiCommons)

Josette Fedor Curtis, a 1997 graduate of Wyoming Area, made her mother, friends and all of Northeastern Pennsylvania very proud Tuesday on the popular game show “Jeopardy!”

And she didn’t even win the round — finishing in second place to Amy Schneider, who made history on the popular game show, winning for the 20th time and tying the record for most wins by a woman.

Fedor Curtis, 42, is the daughter of Rosella Fedor of West Pittston and the late Joseph E. Fedor. Her mom said Josette has watched Jeopardy for years growing up and she continued this tradition while attending college, serving in the U.S. Navy and after marrying Jack Curtis. Both Josette and her husband are retired from the Navy.

“Jack was a pilot and I was a Naval Flight Officer — fancy term for co-pilot and weapons system officer,” Josette said. “Think Goose in Top Gun. We both started off flying the EA-6B Prowler, which the Navy retired in 2015. I was done flying by then, and I was in the Navy Reserve, and back in school to become a registered dietitian. My husband transitioned to the EA-18G Growler in 2011 and that’s what he spent his last nine years flying. He retired in October 2020 and I retired in June 2021.”

And through it all, Josette watched Jeopardy every chance she got.

“To this day, it is a daily ritual in the Curtis home,” her mom said. “It now includes their 10-year-old son, Caleb.”

Caleb did not know his mom was going to be on the show and when it came on, Fedor said her grandson was thrilled.

Fedor said she is proud of her daughter’s military service and she is even more proud of her daughter after watching her on Jeopardy.

“She showed intelligence and so much poise as she appeared on the show,” Fedor said.

Josette was traveling back to her home in the state of Washington on Wednesday, but she found time to talk to the Times Leader about her Jeopardy experience.

“It was wonderful — a lifelong dream,” she said. “I grew up watching with my parents, then when I got married it became a staple for my husband and me and our son.”

Josette said she had probably taken the online test at least 10 times before she advanced to subsequent rounds of “tryouts” this past spring. She traveled to Los Angeles in October for taping.

“The entire crew down there is wonderful — they know how long most of us try to get on the show, so they made it as fun and not nerve-wracking as they could,” she said.

Josette said the returning champ, Amy Schneider, was a force to be reckoned with.

“In fact, the show where I competed against her ended up being her 20th victory,” Josette said. “So, it’ll be great to look back and say I was able to go up against one of the GOATs of ‘Jeopardy!'”

GOAT, for those who don’t know, means “Greatest of All Time.”

Josette said all of the contestants were friendly to each other.

“Even though we were obviously there to compete, we also recognized each others’ intelligence and mutual appreciation for the show so by the end of each taping day many of us were chatting like long-time friends,” she said. “I finished in second place, winning $2,000, which is the amount every second place winner gets.”

Her mom said all those people who touched Josette’s life as she grew up are responsible, in part, for her successes.

“The outpouring of support and congratulations from so many people in the Wyoming Area community was overwhelming and so appreciated,” Fedor said. “So many wonderful messages. It is so heartwarming to live in a small town and, as one of the speakers at our annual scholarship program once put it: ‘It is OK to come from a small town.’ It really is!”

Schneider was in the lead for all of Tuesday night’s episode and picked up several daily doubles. She still took home the win even though she bet zero dollars on the Final Jeopardy question: “The flooding of this river in 1966 destroyed or damaged some 14,000 works of art, many of them priceless.”

Josette and the other contestant, Chas Abdel-Nabi, both incorrectly guessed the Seine River in France. Schneider correctly answered the Arno, a river that flows through Tuscany in Italy.

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