Amy Schneider Speaks Out After Her Historic Jeopardy! Run

"Jeopardy!" fans tuned in to the show on January 26 expecting yet another triumph for Amy Schneider. Just two days earlier, the California-based software engineering manager had earned her place in history by notching the show's second-longest winning streak. (Being the highest-earning trans player of the game just made her victory all the sweeter.) Going into her 40th straight game, Schneider seemed unstoppable, and sure enough, she had a $10,000 lead going into the final round.

The category was "Countries of the World," and the three contestants had just 30 seconds (cue the earworm music!) to come up with "the only nation in the world whose name in English ends with an 'H.'" Uncharacteristically, Schneider blanked on the answer, while competitor Rhone Talsma was able to come up with the correct response: Bangladesh. With $29,600, Talsma became the new "Jeopardy!" champion, and Schneider graciously ended her run. 

But Schneider didn't walk away empty-handed. She won a total of $1,382,800, the most ever won by a female contestant, and the fourth highest overall. (Only Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Matt Amodio have out-earned her, via the Sacramento Bee.) 

Right after taping, cameras caught Schneider chatting with Talsma. "I was worried about you all day," Schneider confessed. "I was worried about you, too!" Talsma replied. "What an honor, I mean it. Like, you're amazing, you're formidable." The two discussed Talsma's winning strategy: In the second round, he landed on a Daily Double and made a huge wager that paid off, putting him within striking distance of Schneider's lead going into the final.

Amy Schneider is disappointed but proud

Right after her final game, Schneider went to the bathroom and cried, per The Washington Post. "Playing 'Jeopardy!' is the most fun I've ever had, and I didn't want it to stop," she said in the interview. "'Devastating' is too strong a word, but it was pretty disappointing." A contestant coordinator was on hand to offer comfort and wisdom, reminding Schneider that she'll always have the memories of her two spectacular months on the show. Her impact will be felt in other ways, too. Although she didn't use "Jeopardy!" as a platform, simply being a trans woman champion on a beloved game show has inspired the trans community (via The Advocate). 

Once the show had aired and her news was out, Schneider released a statement on a long Twitter thread. First, she congratulated Rhone Talsma on his win ("He's a deserving champion, and he played a great game"), and went on to say that she's already in talks about writing a book, among other projects. She thanked her mom "who first fostered my curiosity and love of learning," her girlfriend, Genevieve, for her support — "Thanks baby, I love you so so much!" — and her fans.

She concluded: "I hope those of you that have come (or come back) to Jeopardy because of me stick around with it now that I'm gone. It's one of the best shows on TV, and I have no doubt that before too long you'll find another great champion to root for."