Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider scored her 23rd consecutive triumph last week in a historic run that has made her the top-winning woman in the show’s history.
Yet, that is by all accounts not the only achievement Schneider has accomplished on the show. The Oakland, California, resident is the fourth-best all-time winner, with $855,600 in earnings, and the first transgender person to qualify for Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions, an annual event with the game’s top players.
Schneider’s triumphs have catapulted her into the spotlight and made the engineering manager a beacon for LGBTQ+ visibility.
“2021 wasn’t the best year for the world, but it turned out to be the best year I’ve ever had! Not only have I had this Jeopardy run, but I’ve heard from so many wonderful people,” Schneider said on Twitter.
The 42-year-old, initially from Dayton, Ohio, said that since her triumph streak had started in November, individuals had perceived her at the grocery store. “It’s a fun feeling,” she said in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment. “I’m not going to be, like, Tom Hanks–level famous or anything! So, I think it’ll be manageable.”
Schneider has said she’s dreamed of being a hopeful on the show since age five.
“I’ve always watched it and I’ve also always been interested in learning facts and stuff,” Schneider told Yahoo. “And as I mentioned on the show, in eighth grade I was voted most likely to be on Jeopardy! one day. It always sorted off in my mind that it might be something I did at some point.”
Schneider has used Twitter and Instagram to chronicle her experience on the show, detailing the procedures she uses to tackle questions and recall facts about everything from the sinking of the Titanic to Major League Soccer teams, and her fashion choices, like wearing a sweater to honor another high-ranking female Jeopardy! winner.
Most of her interactions online are positive, Schneider said, but on the other hand, she’s confronted anti-trans comments, to which she recently reacted: “I’d like to thank all the people who have taken the time, during this busy holiday season, to reach out and explain to me that, actually, I’m a man. Every single one of you is the first person ever to make that very clever point, which had never once before crossed my mind.”
Schneider has said she doesn’t “actually think about being trans all that often, and so when appearing on national television, I wanted to represent that part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor”.
However, her run on the show has had a significant effect, families, and advocates say.
“Amy Schneider’s incredible run on Jeopardy! allows families all over the country to get to know her as someone who is great at word puzzles, has in-depth knowledge on a range of topics, and who also happens to be a transgender woman,” Nick Adams, Glaad’s director of transsexual representation, said in a statement last month. “Amy is using her history-making appearances and a new platform to raise awareness of transgender issues and share a bit of her personal story too.”