Oakland-based Jeopardy! contestant Amy Schneider remains undefeated as the show launches its first-ever Professors Tournament on Monday, and she got a break from shooting as a result.
Schneider is now the first trans contestant in show history to reach the echelons of both the Tournament of Champions and the ranks of the show's highest-scoring players of all time. As host Ken Jennings, himself a one-time high-scorer and super-champion, announced during Friday's broadcast, Schneider now boasts the fourth-highest-ever winnings total in regular season play — so those above her are only Jennings himself, James Holtzhauer, and recent star player Matt Amodio.
Also, with $536,400 under her belt after winning 13 games, Schneider is second only to the big-betting Holtzhauer in terms of her per-game winnings to date. Schneider attributes her high total to a consistent betting strategy, her buzzer-timing ability, and some luck with hunting down Daily Doubles before her opponents.
We've learned over the years that Jeopardy! shoots ten shows at a time, with five each on Monday and Tuesday. So if a contestant has won ten in a row, it means they spent a grueling two days of shooting all day long, changing outfits between each show. It's not clear when last week's shows were shot, but Schneider says on Twitter she's glad to have a couple of weeks off for "watching Jeopardy just as a fan for a couple weeks." (Though one would assume that all these Professors shows are already shot and they should be back to taping the regular season this week or next?)
Schneider also noted on her increasingly popular Twitter account that it must have sucked for her competitors Brooke and Andrew to come on stage for the final taping that last Tuesday knowing she was on a roll. "It can't have been easy for them to watch me win four straight games and then come up on stage to take me on knowing I'd had all day to nail down my [buzzer] timing, but they were both good sports, and a lot of fun," Schneider writes.
Thanks to Brooke and Andrew! It can't have been easy for them to watch me win four straight games and then come up on stage to take me on knowing I'd had all day to nail down my timing, but they were both good sports, and a lot of fun.— Amy Schneider (@Jeopardamy) December 4, 2021
Schneider gave an interview last week to the newsletter of trans writer and critic Emily VanDerWerff. VanDerWerff writes, "Schneider's run is heartening, as it comes at a time when trans rights are continually under assault in the US." And with Jeopardy!'s fan base skewing older, she says that Schneider is, "practicing a kind of quiet activism, not really broadcasting her trans identity but underlining it all the same by wearing a trans pin."
When asked about her skills with trivia, Schneider says, "part of it is just the luck of genetics. That’s how my brain works. Things stick in it."
And, she adds, "I definitely think a lot of it goes to my mother. She was a college professor and a math teacher. She was definitely about what you’d call the life of the mind and intellectual achievement and stimulation as its own reward." Also, her dad was a big fan of the show, and made it to a final round of auditions to be on the show once.
Schneider also reveals that she was originally scheduled to appear on Jeopardy! back in September 2020, but a snafu about COVID and union negotiations meant she had to be rescheduled — so she sadly missed her chance to meet Alex Trebek and be on the show while he was still hosting.
The producers must have known she'd be a likely repeat champion because her appearance was held off throughout the guest-host period of earlier this year, and throughout Matt Amodio's 38-show reign, but then she got the call to appear this past September, and her first show aired on November 17.
As Schneider previously said, she has been trying to get on the show since before her transition — and she thinks that transitioning probably helped her chances.
"The reality is that for the first few years of that, when I was trying out, I was, as far as any of us knew, a standard white guy," Schneider told Newsweek. "And there's just more competition for those slots on Jeopardy! They're making a TV show, they don't want everybody to look the same..."
Schneider is a software engineering manager, and she lives in Oakland with her girlfriend — who she says gave her the pearls she wears on most shows.