Last Friday, Amy Schneider became the highest-earning woman in the history of the quiz show Jeopardy! That makes her the fourth-highest-earning contestant overall for regular season games, and fifth for overall winnings. After her latest game yesterday, she’s tied with Julia Collins, who had a 20-day win streak in 2014, for the most victories by a woman. She’s also a trans woman, which absolutely rules.
Schneider told Yahoo Entertainment: “Anything that can be done to show trans people as normal people is a great thing… There definitely are people that are saying things to me that I want to respond to, and that’s not going anywhere good. The flip side of that is that so much of what I get on Twitter and Facebook is so positive and good. “
One of the positive responses came from a Jeopardy! champion whose achievements she surpassed. Larissa Kelly congratulated Schneider over Twitter, and Schneider responded: “I’m honoured to be in your company, and I look forward to some day watching the woman who beats us both!” It was heartwarming to see two competitive champions being supportive of each other, and it was for a good reason. The vast majority of the competitors on Jeopardy!’s Hall of Fame are men, including the top three in every category.
The lack of representation had never discouraged Schneider, who had wanted to be on Jeopardy! since she was five years old. And she’s not the first trans contestant in the trivia show’s history, though she’s certainly the winningest, and as of December 1, the first to qualify for the Tournament of Champions (a yearly competition between the show’s most successful contestants). The date for the tournament hasn’t been announced, but her qualification gives her an opportunity to continue her win streak.
Schneider is optimistic about her continued appearance on Jeopardy! “There are trans people out there, watching me, who are smart trivia nerds,” Schneider told The Daily Beast. She hoped to “lessen their fear a little bit, and give them a bit more hope about what might be possible for them.”
Her historic achievement is a bright spot for the otherwise troubled game show. Executive producer Mike Richards recently left Jeopardy! following a report about his discriminatory behaviour. LeVar Burton briefly guest-hosted Jeopardy! this July, but eventually realised that he didn’t want the job. Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik are the current hosts of the show, and will continue to host in 2022.