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Two St. Petersburg middle-schoolers named Emma will both be on Jeopardy

They're both in middle school. They both live in St. Petersburg. They're both named Emma and until recently they both attended Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle.

But Emma Johnson and Emma Couture have one more thing in common: Both were chosen from among thousands across the nation to compete in Jeopardy!'s Kids Week airing in July.

"I thought it was really amazing that we got picked out of all these kids because there's thousands of kids that tried out and only 15 made it," said Johnson, 11, a sixth-grader.

The first round of casting called for an online test that asked Jeopardy!-like questions.

Both Emmas took the test, and both Emmas passed. They were invited to the next round — the written test and the audition. They passed those, too.

"After lunch at school, Emma asked me if I was going to be on Jeopardy!. I said yes, and she started squealing," said Couture, a seventh-grader whose father works for the St. Petersburg Times. "Then Emma said 'I'm going to be on Jeopardy!, too!!!!'"

Johnson and Couture didn't practice too much for the competition, although Couture said she used a book that was full of lists and a Wii quiz game to study.

"It's hard to practice when you don't know what they're going to ask," said Couture, 12,

The girls flew to Sony Pictures Television in Los Angeles with their parents in early March for the taping.

"It was so weird to see all the places in California like I see on TV: Wilshire Boulevard, the Magic Castle, etc.," said Couture.

At the studio, there was a lot of make-up and practicing and, of course, game playing. Questions were asked in subjects like sports, science, spelling, music and even medical terms.

"It's amazing to see what our little ones really know," said Maggie Speak, contestant producer at Jeopardy!. "When you watch the kids on Jeopardy!, you know the future is going to be very good for us."

The prizes for these 11- and 12-year-old brainiacs: at least $15,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third.

The Emmas will appear on Jeopardy! July 4-8 on different episodes. Florida had one other student — from Palm Beach Gardens - participate in the competition.

Sabrina Rocco can be reached at or (727) 893-8862.