THUNDER BAY — The third time proved to be the charm for a former Thunder Bay resident who was determined to become a contestant on Jeopardy.
Now Ray Lalonde can call himself a Jeopardy champion.
The Hillcrest High School graduate succeeded with his third application to enter the contestants' pool, but still had to wait over a year before he got the phone call he was hoping for.
"They called me just out of the blue and asked 'Can you come down to Los Angeles next month?' and I said 'sure,' " he told TBnewswatch in an interview Monday.
The shows he participated in were recorded in October.
Lalonde emerged as champion in his first competition last Thursday, and followed that up with victories Friday, Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving him with total winnings to that point of over $132,000.
He was scheduled to play again Thursday, but his five victories had already earned him a spot in a future Jeopardy Tournament of Champions.
Jeopardy contestants are not allowed to disclose or discuss the outcome of their appearances until they've been televised.
Although he left Thunder Bay at the age of 19 to attend university, Lalonde said he feels quite connected to the city as he visits from time to time and has lots of extended family members and old friends here who have been cheering him on.
He described his experience on Jeopardy as "thrilling" and "so much fun," saying the people who work on the show were fabulous to work with.
"They were so accommodating. They've been doing this forever, and they're just professionals through and through. They just make it so nice and easy for you and are so welcoming. It's just a lovely experience."
Lalonde has appeared totally calm, cool and collected on the broadcasts, but he said he was actually pretty tense during the taping of the shows.
He explained that he suffered some spinal cord damage over a period of years, and had to work hard to prevent muscle spasms in his legs while he was on camera.
Interestingly, his occupation also involves the entertainment industry, where he works as a scenic artist in Toronto.
"I work for TV shows and movies, and basically do the art work on sets. In construction for TV, you're building everything out of plywood and have to make everything look like the real thing. Like it's a brick wall, a stone wall or marble, anything like that. It's all fake That's what I do," Lalonde said.
During an exchange with Jeopardy host Ken Jennings on Monday's episode, he revealed that his twin brother has also applied to be a contestant on the show.
NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the results of Wednesday's Jeopardy telecast