Interest in teachers’ love story ‘overwhelming,’ quiz show contestant says

A New Brunswick teacher who married a fellow Jeopardy! contestant this month says she’s surprised by all the attention they’ve received — they’re just two nerds in love.

Maryanne Lewell of Saint John said she met South Carolinian Michael Townes four years ago during the quiz show’s annual teachers tournament and eventually fell for his charms.

Their July 7 wedding in St. Andrews By-The-Sea, N.B., was featured in the coveted “Vows” section of The New York Times. It was picked up by other media outlets from People to Martha Stewart Weddings.

“We are just a couple of boring nerds, who met doing something we love,” Lewell told The Canadian Press in an email this week from Texas, where the new couple is visiting family. “And while the attention and support has been wonderful and affirming, it’s also overwhelming. But it’s cool that people love our story: we love it too.”

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek sent them his congratulations, calling them ”winners in love.”

Lewell, who teaches history and social studies at Saint John High School, said she took the online test, and then auditioned and was cast in the 2013 tournament. She said the contestants all bonded off camera; she never competed against Townes and developed a rapport with him.

“Obviously when we were all in Los Angeles we were focused on the game. Being on Jeopardy! was a bucket list item for many of us, and we were all excited to share that nerdy dream with others who understood. Many of us kept in touch after,” she said.

“It became obvious to Mike and myself that we had a lot in common; and perhaps if we were in the same city we would already have been on a date. So we decided to try the long-distance relationship.”

She said Townes won her over by being a friend and “a good guy” during regular visits over a couple years. It may also have helped that they both have three degrees.

When he proposed on Canada Day 2015, she said yes.

She said The New York Times had never before profiled a couple who met on Jeopardy! — such hookups have happened before — and asked to could cover their wedding.

Lewell has also been a contestant on the CBC Television show Canada’s Smartest Person, in 2015.

Townes has two children, so Lewell said she plans to move south to be with her new husband.

“They are still in school. That dictates living arrangements, though we have yet to run the immigration gauntlet. We are consulting now to begin that process,” she said.

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