Amy Schneider changes the game by qualifying for Jeopardy’s “Tournament of Champions”

Amy Schneider on the November 19 episode of "Jeopardy!"
Amy Schneider on the November 19 episode of "Jeopardy!" Photo: Screenshot/Jeopardy!

After winning and becoming the defending championship during Transgender Awareness Week, trans woman and Jeopardy! contestant Amy Schneider has successfully defended her title five episodes in a row — meaning she now qualifies to compete in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, a yearly tournament between the show’s 15 contestants that won in the most episodes.

Schneider is defending her championship in the episodes that are currently airing, the most recent one being on Black Friday, her eighth straight victory. She’s earned $295,200 thus far.

Related: A Jeopardy contestant wore a bi flag pin during one of Alex Trebek’s last shows

Schneider first competed and won in the episode that aired on November 17.

An engineering manager living in Oakland, California, she defeated five-time champion Andrew He when she was the only contestant to answer the Final Jeopardy question correctly. She won $31,600 after identifying which island contains the graves of Robert Fulton and two of the first four treasury secretaries. (The answer was Manhattan.)

To defend her title in Friday’s episode, Schneider correctly answered the Final Jeopardy “question” from temporary host Ken Jennings (the show’s all-time winningest contestant) in the category of “Fictional Languages.”

All three contestants correctly guessed that the children-beloved book that features the fictional “Lapine” language, Watership Down by Richard Adams. Schneider had $23,400 in the game leading into the Final Jeopardy round, which was nearly $20,000 more than the nearest contestant. To be safe, she bet $14,000, bringing her final total for Friday’s episode to $37,400.

In an interview with Newsweek, Schneider explained that she was originally scheduled to appear last year, before Alex Trebek’s passing. “It was really disappointing not to get a chance to be on the show with Alex. It was a bummer, but things happen for a reason. And I don’t know that I’d have done as well last fall compared to now,” she said.

Schneider also added that “My girlfriend [of nine months] is much more into popular culture, so I feel like she’s given me at least a little bit more knowledge in that category. And I’ve had such a great time.”

After qualifying, Schneider also wrote an editorial in Newsweek, saying, “It’s a strange thing to think that I have made history as the first trans person to qualify for the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. It was inspirational for me to see transgender contestants on the show before I became a contestant and I hope that I am now doing that same thing for all the other trans Jeopardy! fans out there.

“I hope I have given them the opportunity to see a trans person succeed.”

During the most recent episodes, she wore a pin of the transgender flag. Before Friday’s episode, Jeopardy! shared an interview with Schneider as she explained why she chose to wear it.

Schneider has also been summing up the Jeopardy! episodes as her reign continues, with tweets prior to the episode’s airing which are generally spoiler-free, and tweets after to explain what her experience was like during the episode.

She said that while she didn’t want to focus on her trans identity while appearing on the show, the streak gave her the ability to show her pride and “represent that part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor.”

For the holidays, she’s encouraging fans to donate to the Transgender Law Center and TransLifeline.

“The one thing that sucks about Jeopardy is that for me to win, the other contestants have to lose,” she tweeted earlier this week.

Watch the Final Jeopardy from the most recent episode that aired below.

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