Underestimating us Southerners can put you in Jeopardy.

This is something you’ll never hear a Southerner say.

What is “I’ll take ‘Shakespeare for a thousand, Alex.”

Don’t look at me like that: some people doubt the intellect of anyone with the slightest twang in their voice or who hails from anywhere south of Brooklyn. That’s why, in certain situations, I’ve been known to crank my accent up to George Jones: it makes people underestimate you and gives you a tactical advantage.

That’s also why, when watching Jeopardy!, I root for the Southernest contestant on the show.

If there are no Southerners, I go by profession. Journalists usually get my support, which is why I was stunned to learn, after the recent death of the show’s host, Alex Trebek, that two former colleagues were contestants on the show.

Former News & Observer editors Rob Waters and Pam Nelson appeared in 1989 and 2010, respectively.


I marvel not just at the intellect both obviously possess to have made it onto the show, but at the modesty, too. I worked with both for more than a decade and only learned third- or –fourth-hand that they’d been on the show.

Me? Any time som