Her streak continues. Dayton, Ohio native Amy Schneider, the first trans person to qualify for the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions, is now tied for second place for most consecutive wins on the popular game show. So far, she has won 38 games — the same as last year’s runaway champ Matt Amodio — and secured $1,307,200 in total earnings. If she wins Monday’s game she will bump Amodio to third and stand alone in second place.
But not everyone is happy with Schneider’s remarkable accomplishment. A former “Jeopardy!” five-time champion, Tom Nichols, told Boston Public Radio that he believes the show should revert to previous rules which capped winning streaks at five wins. After that, “Jeopardy!” champs used to be “retired.”
The rules were changed in 2003 and the following year, in 2004, Ken Jennings went on a winning streak that lasted for 74 games and earned him $2,520,700. Today, Jennings is a “Jeopardy!” host who rotates hosting duties with Mayim Bialik.
“After about two or three wins, I think you’ve got such an advantage,” Nichols said. “You’ve been using the buzzer, which is much more important than people realize. You’re a lot more comfortable in the studio. You understand the rhythm of the game.”
Nichols said that up against long-term champions, new contestants “don’t really have much of a chance, and that’s purely because the returning champions have mastered the mechanics of the game.”
Sounding a bit like sour grapes, Nichols continued: “There’s a reason why they used to retire you,” he said. “But the ratings are up, and people want to treat it like a sport and professionalize it. You might as well move the show to Vegas.”
Schneider, now with just over 87,000 followers on her official Twitter account @Jeopardamy, posted Friday about that day’s score-tying game.
“So I'd just had my best game ever [on Thursday], and I'd historically done well on Fridays,” she tweeted. “But the score starts at 0 every game. Would I be able to finish out the day, and tie Matt Amodio? I was about to find out!”
And find out she did. Schneider had another runaway game on Friday. Earlier in the week she did a Zoom interview with Katie Couric for Couric’s YouTube channel. There she talked about the importance of trans representation on television.
“I think that it’s the best thing that’s come out of this,” she said. “All the messages I’ve heard from both trans people and families and loved ones of trans people, and especially those where they talk about parents and grandparents who, for the first time, kind of get it and understand that I’m just a woman and it’s not as complicated as they thought.”
Undoubtedly, Schneider’s streak on the show has changed some hearts and minds.
“'Jeopardy!’ reaches an older demographic that have a lifetime of experience before trans people became accepted and visible so for a lot of them this is sort of their first major exposure to a trans person," she said. "So that was definitely something I was very conscious of while we were taping the episodes, that I really needed to put my best foot forward the whole time because I was representing a lot of people.”