Kate Freeman, a transgender woman from Lake Orion, Michigan became the Jeopardy! champion last Friday but lost the title on Monday night. Freeman wore a trans flag pin to quietly represent the community on the show.
A financial analyst, Freeman took home $5,559 in cash winnings.
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“I spent a lot of time learning about and reflecting on my gender identity in grad school, coming out as transgender and lesbian a few months before graduating,” Freeman told MLive. “I’m proud to be out and I know representation is important.”
“It was really cool to get the behind-the-scenes view of how TV gets made and it was impressive to see how the crew adapted their practices and protocols to keep everyone safe and socially-distant while producing the show,” Freeman said after the show aired.
“Competing was equal parts thrilling and nerve-wracking. Getting that buzzer timing right is so much harder than it seems when watching at home. It really lived up to my childhood dreams of being on the show. I was honored to be able to meet Alex before his passing.”
Contestant Cody Lawrence wore a bi flag pin on his lapel earlier in the week.
In 2019, former contestant John Presloid won America’s heart and some serious cash after casually mentioning his husband while declining to bet big on a Daily Double.
“My husband would kill me,” he said as he smiled brightly and the audience chuckled.
Presloid, who has been out for years, told LGBTQ Nation that “nobody who knows me personally was surprised at all by my statement.”
“The reaction was so much bigger than I thought it would be.”
Presloid pointed out former contestant Louis Virtel who, after becoming internet famous for giving a big circle snap after winning a Daily Double himself in 2015, admitted that his biggest regret was being recognized as a gay man from stereotypes, but never actually saying he is gay.
“If you watch the show, I’m slamming around on the buzzer with a wrist flicked up to heaven,” Virtel said. “I snapped my fingers at the camera during my introduction; I snapped again with full In Living Color gusto after I responded correctly on a Daily Double. Before the closing credits, I posed like Linda Evangelista with a ladylike arm in the air.”
“It all felt fantastic and organic, a reflection of my obsession with the show. But I hate, hate, hate that I didn’t just say ‘I’m gay’ on air.”
“That kind of stuck with me,” Presloid told LGBTQ Nation. “I’ve noticed that gay people can immediately recognize me as gay, but a lot of time straight people are surprised. So I kind of liked the idea of just dropping it casually, like a straight person would mention his wife.”
“I didn’t want to make it a ‘reveal’ or some shocking secret, but just a matter of fact thing. ‘Oh yeah, by the way, I’m gay too. Let’s keep playing this game’.”
Trebek died of cancer earlier this year, but the episodes already recorded are continuing to air as a tribute to the beloved longtime host.