She seemed unstoppable, but on Wednesday, it happened. After 40 wins, Amy Schneider, “Jeopardy!” The champion, whose retrieval of information often seems faster than a search engine, has been defeated.
Schneider finished with the second longest streak in game history and a total winnings of $1.4 million. She was defeated by Rhone Talsma, a 29-year-old librarian from Chicago who correctly answered the Final Jeopardy clue while Schneider did not. His face after the victory is one of absolute shock. (He said in an interview Wednesday that he thinks failure is inevitable because of Schneider’s record.)
Schneider, 42 years old, an engineering manager living in Oakland, California, experienced a whirlwind several monthsfulfills her long-held dream of being on the show and competes to become a public figure as she gains popularity in the game-show.
As a transgender woman, she faces bigotry online, reply for it graciously on social media; She also received many words of encouragement and affirmation from people who were moved to see such a successful transgender person on television.
In an interview on Wednesday, she introduced her final bout and what she ran on “Jeopardy!” mean to her. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Are you feeling overwhelmed right now, or is it a combination of them?
It’s definitely a mix. So many emotions that I had at the time, but what was really different was my fans on Twitter and everything was going to be so sad. And it frustrates me.
Take me back to the beginning of this game. Do you remember how you felt?
You know, I had a feeling about that day, for some reason. You wouldn’t really think so looking at last week’s scores, but once I got past Matt Amodio, this was like momentum – I could feel it slipping. You know, Ken’s record still seems so far away. And the fatigue of this recording really starts to add up. I can’t explain it even to myself, but I can only feel that something is slipping a little, no matter how much I try to resist it.
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How many games did you play that day?
This is the third time. That’s right after lunch. And another thing that I have a feeling is Rhone. Ken used to say how, when he was finally defeated, it was someone who was just friendly and wanted to hang out, not be intimidated by him. That’s certainly true of the Rhone. And he’s really a fun guy to hang out with, too. And I thought, if it had to be someone, I’m glad it was him.
What was the turning point of that game?
There was a clue that we both knew the answer, and he beat me on the vibrator and then he gave him the Daily Double. And he – I think quite rightly – made a bold move and bet everything to actually win and it paid off for him. And once he got that Daily Double, I knew it would, at least, make it to Final Jeopardy.
Guide me through that Final Jeopardy competition. How do you feel about the category (Countries of the World)?
I feel great about the category. Geography has always been a strong subject of mine. And then the clue appeared, and it didn’t come to me. And it’s very frustrating.
[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.]
I recalled my mind, as it was going through the world. I said, “India; Are not. Pakistan; Are not. Nepal; no.” And then it just continued and I was right in Bangladesh and I didn’t understand.
A lot of times during this run, you’ve had complete peace of mind when joining Final Jeopardy. So this is kind of unusual, right?
Yes, it has happened a few times before, but not anytime recently. And so I forgot what that fear is like and that kind of pressure.
How does it feel when it’s over?
I mean, it’s very difficult. Now playing “Jeopardy!” It was the most fun I’ve ever had and I don’t want it to end. I know it will come at some point, but it’s hard to realize that the time has finally come. That said, there’s also some relief. One of the first thoughts I had was, well, I don’t need to come up with any more anecdotes. And it’s been a lot, going out of town every week, and it’s great to say, OK, I can go back to my normal life with Genevieve [Schneider’s girlfriend].
I can only imagine how mentally and emotionally taxing it is. Describe how you feel after a day of recording five games.
Just done. I would call Genevieve and tell her what happened and then go back to the hotel room or the airport, depending on what day it was, and just sit there, lie there and do nothing. No thinking, no reading on my phone, like nothing like an hour at a time.
What have you learned from this experience, first in terms of quizzes, then about your life and who you are?
Well, definitely Bangladesh. I can tell you that. It mostly revolves around something I missed. Like the Field Museum other day [the correct response to Final Jeopardy] – it’s frustrating.
And in terms of your life more broadly?
I think the main thing that I get out of this is being content with myself, the way I look, the way I present to the world. I’ve been openly transgender for less than five years now, and certainly still have lingering worries and discomforts and things like that.
Just to get so much positive feedback, so much support, and so much acceptance, that allowed me to – finally – look at myself on TV and say, “Oh, you know, she’s beautiful, she’s fun, what a lovely person.” And I’ve never been able to see myself like that before.
What kind of response did you hear from “Jeopardy!” Of transgender people. fans or just transgender people in general have reached out to you?
Just a ton of support. That’s really cool and makes a lot of sense. I think it’s amazing, it’s meaningful to hear from the parents, grandparents, loved ones of transgender people and hear that they understand their loved ones better, or so many times, I comforted their loved ones, seeing that transgender people could succeed and that they would not be as limited as they feared they would be.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/arts/television/amy-schneider-loses-jeopardy.html Amy Schneider in Her Whirlwind ‘Jeopardy!’ Run