Oakland's own Amy Schneider, who now stands second only to host and longstanding champion Ken Jennings after winning a streak of 40 games in a row, was taken out in Wednesday night's game, ending her historic run.
Schneider's streak was historic for multiple reasons, not the least of which being that she is a trans woman whose lengthy appearance on the show did wonders for trans visibility — and likely trans acceptance. And she walks away with one of the highest winnings totals of all time, with $1,382,800 — only slightly below the total of previous streaker Matt Amodio, who walked away earlier this season with $1,518,601, which he won in 38 games. She remains the highest-scoring and most-winning female contestant in the show's history.
Schneider was taken out by a skilled 29-year-old librarian from Chicago, Rhone Talsma, who bet big on a Double Jeopardy late in the game to put him within striking distance of the win in Final Jeopardy. The clue: The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an “H,” it’s also one of the 10 most populous.
The answer, which Talsma came up with and Schneider did not, was Bangladesh.
"It just wasn’t coming to me," Schneider says, speaking to the New York Times.
That's surprising given how masterful Schneider has been, and how terrific her recall has tended to be — but she also lost a Final Jeopardy on Monday's episode, forgetting about the Field Museum in Chicago.
She tells the Times that she had a funny feeling about that last day of shooting — which was back on November 9, a couple weeks before her very first episode would actually air. ("It started airing when I knew that I had done this kind of historic thing and nobody else knew anything about it," she says.) The show, as we've learned through her journey and her narrations on Twitter, is shot on Mondays and Tuesdays — they shoot two weeks of shows on those two days, which makes her streak all the more notable. She won all 40 of those games in the span of just eight shooting days, with only 15 or 20 minutes between each game on those days. She would then get a week off, and return for two more grueling days each time.
So, Schneider says in a pre-prepared Times piece — that includes an in-person interview at Oakland's Heart and Dagger Saloon, where she went to watch Jeopardy! last Friday night along with two friends — she was both sad and incredibly relieved when the winning streak was finally over.
"I went in the bathroom, cried for about 30 or 40 seconds, pulled myself together and headed out," she says about the moments after her defeat. "It wasn’t just a feeling of sadness, there was a sense of relief. It was so exhausting."
The profile of Schneider by the Times is made sweeter by multiple details about how her life has been changed by the show already — even though she hasn't yet gotten that million-dollar check in the mail. Her friend manages her Instagram account, and they've already parlayed it into some free clothes from Target and a stylist session and shopping spree at Nordstrom.
Schneider says she took a demotion at her job as an engineering manager in order to continue shooting the show back in October and early November, and needing to fly back and forth between Oakland and Los Angeles.
And she says she hopes that her appearances on the show helped some trans women with a particular insecurity.
"I’ve got a more feminine voice when I really want to, and I’d sort of been planning on using that voice on TV,” Schneider tells the Times. But she figured that constantly, consciously trying to alter her voice would probably mess up her gameplay, so she didn't bother, and played with her natural speaking voice.
“Trans women watching can see me with my voice as it is and see me being OK with it," Schneider says.
She also told George Stephanopoulos in a Good Morning America interview earlier this week, "The best part for me has been being on TV as my true self, expressing myself, representing the entire community of trans people and... just being a smart, confident woman doing something super normal like being on Jeopardy!"
Schneider, of course, weathered some abuse on Twitter after setting up her @jeopardamy account. But she only acknowledged it once, with a pinned tweet that remains pinned from New Year's Eve in which she "thanked" everyone who felt it necessary to remind her that she's "a man."
I'm dazzled by her talent, of course, but also by how she was always so authentically and straightforwardly herself as her streak aired. What a champ!— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) January 27, 2022
But all told, she seemed confident and authentic throughout, on screen, which was something Jennings noted in a tweet Wednesday night.
"Of all the Jeopardy! greats, I've never seen anyone that played the game with the kind of unflappable ease that Amy Schneider always seemed to have," Jennings says.