Boston University Class of 2013 graduate Erin McLean, a former Jeopardy! contestant, is leading an online campaign ending Monday to get herself voted back onto the show for Jeopardy’s Battle of the Decades.
McLean, a University of Rhode Island first-year graduate student and Danvers native, said she hopes to make a reappearance on the show after winning the 2010 College Championship and becoming a semi-finalist in the 2011 Tournament of Champions.
“I would love another crack at it,” she said. “My 2011 Tournament of Champions bid was short. I got a rough game with some hard categories, including opera and other stuff I really hadn’t studied. I feel like if it had been any other game, I would have been able to win that and move onto the finals.”
Jeopardy Senior Publicist Allison Shapiro said the Battle of the Decades is a celebration of the show’s 30th anniversary in which top contestants from the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s play against one another in February, March and April of 2014.
“In honor of our 30th season, we’re bringing back contestants from all 30 years of the show to compete,” she said.
Producers have picked 14 of 15 contestants to represent each decade in the tournament, but the 15th contestant will elected by fans. Viewers can choose between five fan favorites by voting on Facebook or Twitter or visiting the Jeopardy website, Shapiro said.
“Without our audience, we wouldn’t be here for our 30th season, so we wanted to have them choose someone [a contestant],” Shapiro said.
McLean, a 2013 College of Arts and Sciences graduate, said she has been using Facebook and Twitter to garner votes for herself in the competition. She has also distributed press releases to local news organizations and networked through friends and family.
“I really want to meet all of these champions that they’ve invited back for the 2000s and the ‘90s and the ‘80s,” she said. “These are people that I grew up watching on TV, and they’re legends in terms of the Jeopardy community.”
McLean won $100,000 playing four games of Jeopardy in 2010 and $10,000 playing two games in 2011. She will know on Feb. 3 whether she will be appearing on the show for a fourth time, she said. Voting closes Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
“I would be the youngest contestant in the entire [Battle of the Decades Tournament] decades tournament, which would be really refreshing for a show like Jeopardy that has a lot of older contestants and a lot of male contestants,” she said. “Being a young female contestant would be really important to me. It would be really nice to represent an underrepresented demographic.”
McLean’s current boyfriend Evan Gardner, a current CAS junior, said Erin became a prominent figure in the BU community after her appearance on Jeopardy.
“She’s ready to be back on the show,” Gardner said. “Every since she lost the semi-finals of the Tournament of Champions, I think she has some unfinished business. This is a time to prove herself and go against some pretty big names in Jeopardy.”
Gardner said they have been reaching out to friends and family as well as the BU and URI communities using social media.
“You can go door-to-door or you can tell your friends and hand out flyers, but at the end of the day, if you can come up with a good social media campaign, that’s one of the strongest avenues,” he said. “… You can reach a large audience in a fairly short amount of time.”
Erin’s mother Loren McLean said she has also been reaching out to colleagues, friends and family online to encourage people to vote her daughter back on the show.
Loren said Jeopardy has been a great experience for Erin and another opportunity to get back on the show is welcomed.
“It’s given her a lot of notes, and I think she’s been able to use that for her advantage for job applications and grad school applications,” she said. “It’s something that has really helped her in terms of setting her apart from the zillions of people that are applying for jobs or applying for positions at universities and programs.”