DUNLAP, Tenn. — As an assistant public defender, Dunlap native Jeff Harmon is used to having his questions answered.
But can he answer in the form of a question?
Friday night, fans of the television game show “Jeopardy” will see Mr. Harmon pit his wits against the legendary board.
Mr. Harmon wouldn’t talk much about how he played because of confidentiality agreements, but he said his courtroom experience helped. He is a public defender in the 12th Judicial District, which covers Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea and Sequatchie counties.
His said his main goal was “not to embarrass myself.”
But the rehearsal in Los Angeles got his adrenaline flowing.
“You walk down the hall and turn the corner, that’s when it hits you — just boom,” he said. “There is the Jeopardy set right in front of you. No matter how many times I’d watched it on television ... at that point, you know, I’m not in Kansas anymore.”
Reality struck with the start of the game, the appearance of host Alex Trebek and the famous theme music, he said.
“We met him when everyone else meets him; when they said ‘... and our host, Alex Trebek ...’ and he walks from behind the wall ... boom, it hits you again. And it really hits you ... when you hear that music that you hear on television,” he said.
Mr. Harmon said “dumb luck” led to his “Jeopardy” appearance.
“I did the online test in January (2007), I got an e-mail in March to go to Atlanta in May,” he said.
He didn’t really expect a summons to California after more testing and a mock game in Atlanta, he said.
He was in Chattanooga in late October when he got a call to head to Hollywood for a Nov. 14 taping, he said. He hoped to keep it quiet.
“I called my brother, “Steve ‘Mouth of the South’ Harmon,” he laughed. “By the time I got to Dunlap from Chattanooga, I believe everyone over here knew about it.”
Sequatchie County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Millsaps said she was one of the first to hear the news.
“I’ve had it marked on my calendar for months,” Ms. Millsaps said.
She said people have been prodding Mr. Harmon about the outcome, but he won’t tell.
“I’m anxious to see how it turned out,” she said.
Mr. Harmon said his wife, Kim, knows the outcome but she’s sworn to secrecy too.
Win or lose, Mr. Harmon said his wife promised a “Jeopardy party” Friday night.
The couple will gather with their children, Ben, Maggie and Katie, and a few friends to watch the show, this time featuring someone they all know.
IF YOU WATCH
Assistant Public Defender Jeff Harmon will appear Friday on “Jeopardy” at 7:30 p.m. EST, 6:30 p.m. CST on WTVC Channel 9.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...