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Amy Schneider of Oakland, California, recently won her fifth “Jeopardy!” match in a row on the long-running TV game show. With that win, Schneider not only qualified for the elite “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions but also made history as the show’s first openly transgender contestant to make it to the end-of-year championship series.
The 11-time “Jeopardy!” winner (as of the morning of Dec. 2) told ABC7 News simply being on the game show was a big dream. She tried out for the game show three times, and 2021 was finally her year. As a lifelong fan of the game, Schneider wanted to do her best when she got her chance. Then, when she won a few games, she knew the “Tournament of Champions” was in reach.
“Once I got to episodes three and four, I knew the fifth one was in sight,” she told ABC 7 News. “Once I got it, it was a great feeling, mostly because I was having fun and I didn’t want to stop. By qualifying for the fifth one, I knew I would come back.”
However, in an interview for the show, she shared that winning that first game was a special moment for her. She’d assumed the previous champion would have the winning final question.
“And then, to realize I won, was just such a great feeling,” Schneider said in a clip “Jeopardy!” posted on YouTube.
Only one other contestant is ahead of her in the current running for the Tournament: Matt Amodio, with 38 wins. She’s now tied with Jonathan Fisher at 11 wins.
Ken Jennings, one of the current co-hosts of the game show and arguably the greatest “Jeopardy!” champion of all time, shared his congratulations on Schneider’s qualifying win for the upcoming tournament in a Twitter post.
“This season has been nuts,” Jennings posted. “ANOTHER strong contender for what is shaping up to be an all-timer of a Tournament of Champions.”
This season has been nuts. ANOTHER strong contender for what is shaping up to be an all-timer of a Tournament of Champions. https://t.co/JdR97kEqRV
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) November 24, 2021
And, while her winning streak is impressive and exciting (the Ohio native has won $380,200 so far, according to Cleveland.com), Schneider said her appearances on “Jeopardy!” are an opportunity to bring more visibility and awareness to the transgender community in a positive and educational way.
“I am from Ohio, where the only trans people I thought of were drag queens or prostitutes,” she told ABC7. “Seeing other trans women in a good spotlight inspired me to not be afraid of trying to compete in the thing I have always loved.”
On one of the recent episodes, Schneider wore a trans flag pin. She sat down for a quick behind-the-scenes interview at “Jeopardy!” about the importance of showing solidarity with other transgender people.
“Thanksgiving is a time for family and, sadly, it’s still true for a lot of trans people that that can be difficult for them, that they may have a difficult relationship with their families,” Schneider said. “I’m fortunate enough not to have that issue myself, but I know it’s out there, and so I just wanted to kind of send that message of support.”
Thank you for your thoughtful message, Amy. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Xj02Jd8Nkm
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 26, 2021
Schneider is not the first openly trans person to compete and win on “Jeopardy!” USA Today reported Kate Freeman took that honor last year. However, the reigning “Jeopardy!” champ extended her gratitude to her predecessor.
“There have been a handful before [who appeared on the show], including one, Kate Freeman, who was the first out trans champion on 12/16/20,” Schneider posted in a Nov. 17 tweet. “My thanks to all of them for blazing the trail!”
The current champion hopes her run on “Jeopardy!” inspires the next generation to go for their dreams.
“I am so incredibly grateful,” she said to ABC7 News. “Hopefully I can send a positive message to the nerdy trans girl who wants to be on the show, too.”