ST. PETERSBURG — Emma Couture has spent the past four months practicing her poker face.
The 13-year-old from St. Petersburg placed first in her round on Jeopardy Kids Week in March, leaving her with a cool $15,000 and a big secret — the show was set to air in July, and she couldn't reveal that she'd won until after it aired.
Her episode of the iconic game show finally made it on TV on Thursday night. Since then, Emma has been receiving well-wishes from around the country.
"We've heard from people I went to high school with, people I went to elementary school with, cousins I haven't seen in 30 years," said Emma's mother, Wilma Norton, who works for St. Petersburg College. "People who don't even know her were sending her congratulatory messages."
Emma, whose father Peter Couture works for the St. Petersburg Times, says she's been watching Jeopardy "pretty much since I was born" and jumped at the chance to be on the show when she saw ads for Kids Week.
Spending three days in Los Angeles to tape the show was like a dream come true — the family, who'd never been to California, went to Disneyland and toured Hollywood in between Double Jeopardy rounds.
"We had a great family vacation, and then it was capped off by Emma winning her game," Norton said.
Couture's friend Emma Johnson, another Jeopardy Kids Week participant, placed third in her round. Johnson was a sixth-grader at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg. Couture just finished seventh grade at Thurgood.
The families watched their daughters' episode together Wednesday and Thursday night, Norton said.
Couture said she's not sure what she'll do with the money — most of it is going to a college fund, but she and her mother are also considering donating a portion to a charity.
"You could go on a pretty good shopping spree with that, though," she said, laughing.