LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Jeopardy!” Champion Amy Schneider’s dazzling streak is over, snapped Wednesday by a Chicago librarian after 40 straight wins and nearly $1.4 million in prize money.
Schneider’s success put her in the ranks of guest host Ken Jennings and the quiz show’s other big names. It also made Schneider, a trans woman, a visible symbol of achievement for people who are often marginalized.
“It’s still a little hard to believe,” she said of her impressive journey. “It’s something I will be remembered for, and that’s pretty good.”
New champion Rhone Talsma had the right answer at the final “Jeopardy!” index for a winning total of $29,600. Schneider, who found herself in the unusual position of entering the final lap short of a runaway, finished second with $19,600.
“I’m still in shock,” Talsma said in a statement. “I wasn’t expecting to face a 40 Day Champion, and I was excited to see maybe someone else slay the giant. I really didn’t think it was going to be me, so I’m thrilled.
Schneider told The Associated Press that Talsma played well and did “a great job of taking opportunities when they presented themselves and putting himself in a position to be able to win.”
The answer that puzzled Schneider concerned the countries of the world: the only nation whose name in English ends in an “h” and which is also one of the 10 most populous. (Cue the music “Jeopardy!” – And the answer is, “What is Bangladesh?”)
Among her immediate reactions to the end of the match and her streak: she was sad but also relieved that “I no longer have to invent anecdotes”, the stories that competitors share during breaks.
The contestants receive their winnings after their final game airs, and Schneider’s spending plans include shopping for clothes and, most importantly, travel.
An engineering manager and a Dayton, Ohio native who lives in Oakland, Calif., Schneider’s regular-season play made her No. 2 in consecutive games won, putting her between Jennings with 74 games and Matt Amodio, winner of 38 games in 2021.
Schneider’s total price tag of $1,382,800 puts her in fourth place on the regular season earnings list, behind Jennings ($2,520,700), James Holzhauer ($2,462,216) and Amodio ($1,518,601). ).
Schneider, will be part of the show’s “Tournament of Champions” and is the first trans person to qualify,
She was prepared at the end of her streak, she told AP.
“I felt like my time was running out, even though it didn’t seem like it in the scores,” Schneider said. The routine of traveling to Los Angeles for tapings — five shows a day, two days a week — was tiring, and it took its toll.
After surpassing Amodio’s winning streak tally, she added, the prospect of trying to break Jennings’ long-standing record was “hard to imagine.”
Schneider’s depth of knowledge, lightning-quick responses, and courteous yet efficient manner earned him a devoted fan base. Comedian Louis Virtel, a former “Jeopardy!” contestant, tweeted earlier this month that Schneider was like a “social worker assigned to each episode, and when she’s done she grabs her briefcase, nods and leaves.”
She was also admired for her handling of anti-trans trolls, with a measured response that earned her a shoutout from writer and Broadway star Harvey Fierstein.
“The best outcome of all of this will always be the help I’ve been able to offer the trans community,” Schneider said. “I’m here because of the sacrifices that countless trans people have made, often to the point of risking their lives. Doing my part to advance this cause is truly special.
Schneider has a message for “Jeopardy!” viewers who will fail to integrate it into their daily lives: “I realized that I am really so sad for all my fans. … I want to thank them for all their support and tell them it’s good.
For the season through January 17, “Jeopardy!” ranked as the most-watched syndicated program with an average of 9.4 million viewers – a substantial increase of 563,000 from last season. The show averaged 11 million viewers for the week of Jan. 10-17, according to Nielsen.
Sequences from Schneider and Amodio helped tone down “Jeopardy!” past the mishandled replacement of its admired host, the late Alex Trebek. Executive producer Mike Richards was tapped by Sony Pictures Television to replace Trebek last year, but quickly left the show after old podcasts aired featuring his misogynistic and other demeaning comments.
A permanent host has yet to be named, with Mayim Bialik, who has been named host of “Jeopardy!” specials and Jennings are trading this season. Jennings is also a consulting producer for the show.