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Mortgage Banker’s Wife Beats Jeopardy! Champ

Mortgage Banker’s Wife Beats Jeopardy! Champ

Jeffrey Zerg talks about wife Nancy

December 13, 2004


Jeffrey Zerg recalled the phone conversation with his wife, Nancy, just three months ago. “I have some good news and some bad news,” Nancy had said. “I did it! I beat Ken Jennings! But I didn’t do so well the next game.”

Zerg wasn’t in the audience to witness his wife’s defining moment in Jeopardy! history when the final round was played out with the question, “Most of this firm’s seasonal 70,000 white-collar employees work only four months a year.” His wife correctly replied “H&R Block,” giving her the win that derailed the Jeopardy! record-breaking champion — putting an end to his 74-day run and halting his prize winnings at $2.5 million.

“She’s very bright,” Zerg said of his wife’s trivia-answering ability. “She reads a lot.”

Zerg said he traveled to New York with his wife for an interview and had the chance to meet the “Joe DiMaggio of Jeopardy,” Ken Jennings.

“He’s very clever,” Zerg commented. “He’s good at understanding the strategy of the game. But on that given day Nancy was just better and I am very proud of her.”

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California and preparing to go to law school, Zerg said he stunned his parents by telling them he wanted to be an actor. Although his acting career proved unyielding, he said it did produce one great joy of his life — his wife of 17 years, Nancy. Both actors, they met in New York at a rehearsal of Romantic Comedy, in which they both performed.

Zerg’s most recent place of employment was with CFC Mortgage Bankers in Ventura, the couple’s hometown. He said CFC is loosely affiliated with Troop Real Estate Inc., where his wife is employed as an agent. “She’s a very good real estate agent,” he said. “And it was very convenient working three doors down from each other.”

Zerg began his career in the mortgage industry in 1992 as a loan officer for Countrywide and spent almost two years as vice president in charge of processing. He also has been employed with Fleet Mortgage and HMS Capital Inc., a mortgage company that specializes in no-cost refinances for the state of California.

At the moment, Zerg has taken hiatus due to family issues but said he looks forward to launching a career in the mortgage industry again after the holidays. “I’m looking for a place that coincides with my way of thinking — of treating people fairly — customer-oriented,” he told in an interview. “I enjoy teaching people about the different loan programs. I’m hoping to find that kind of ambiance and philosophy.”

photo of Nancy Zerg and family
Zerg Family

Paula Parisot is a freelance writer for In addition to 4 years’ journalism experience at other news publications, Paula has worked in the mortgage industry. Email Paula at:

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