Baltimore County

Trivia-loving Towson twins apply separately to ‘Jeopardy!’ Now they’re contestants just weeks apart.

It’s double “Jeopardy!” for the Donegan family of Towson.


Fraternal twin sisters Ciara and Kristin Donegan, 2018 Towson High School graduates, were selected to compete on separate “Jeopardy!” programs airing just over a month apart.

Though anyone can apply for the game show, which has regular, college and teen versions, it is not easy to become a contestant. For sisters to appear on the show within a few years of one another would be amazing. But within a month? Incredible.


The 22-year-olds have been applying to “Jeopardy!” programs since they were teens. The funny thing is, each sister initially didn’t know this time about the other’s renewed attempt to get on the show.

“We didn’t know each other [was] applying,” said Kristin.

Kristin, a senior majoring in biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was accepted for the 2022 “Jeopardy! National College Championship.” It involves 32 students selected from a 30,000-applicant pool.

“The process took over a year,” said Kristin. “The online test had 50 questions and we had to retake it the next day on Zoom.”

The college championship, which was taped in November, began airing during prime time in the week of Feb. 6. Kristin was a quarterfinal winner on the Feb. 15 show and made it to a single-answer tiebreaker Friday in the semifinals show that she lost, going home with a prize of $20,000.

Kristin Donegan, 22, of Towson is appearing on the 2022 "Jeopardy! National College Championship" beginning Feb. 15. Her twin, Ciara, will appear on the syndicated "Jeopardy!" show in March.

Ciara, a senior at University of Maryland, College Park and nine minutes younger than her sister, will compete on the regular “Jeopardy!” program five weeks after Kristin’s appearance.

A winner of one of the university’s Banneker-Key scholarships, Ciara was one of more than 150,000 applicants who took the show’s test in the past year and one of 400 who was chosen.

“I auditioned on our 21st birthday,” said Ciara. “It was a fun way to celebrate.”


Ciara learned she was selected just after Kristin competed.

Ciara is set to appear on “Jeopardy!” on March 24. Viewers can watch the show locally on WBFF-TV at 7 p.m.

In high school, the twins were a part of the regional high school quiz show, “It’s Academic.” Kristin appeared on the show a few times as co-chair of their school team.

“I really enjoy learning trivia. It makes me feel like I have a superpower,” said Ciara. “I know so much random information that I can use in any conversation. It definitely helps me socialize with anyone.”

The Morning Sun

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Trivia has been a Donegan family tradition. Their grandmother, Mary Donegan, auditioned for “Jeopardy!” in the 1980s, but did not get selected. Laura Donegan, their mother, appeared on “It’s Academic” in the 1980s.

Laura and her husband, Robert Donegan, bonded through trivia and attend family trivia nights at local pubs.


“Trivia provides familial time and builds memory, cognition and sociability skills,” said Robert Donegan. “There’s a lot of breadth rather than depth here.”

“The trivia passion began for the girls in their middle school years,” said Laura Donegan. “Until then, Robert and I went to trivia nights by ourselves.”

“Growing up, we watched ‘Jeopardy!’ three times a week,” said Kristin.

So really, the Donegan twins have been training for this moment for years. And, they have a brother, 20-year-old Liam. Will he follow the family’s trivia tradition? We’ll have to watch and see.

Fraternal twins Kristin and Ciara Donegan of Towson will appear on "Jeopardy!"-affiliated shows in February and March.