Amy Schneider's Jeopardy winning streak ends after 40 games, second-longest in show's history
The history-making champion was finally defeated on Wednesday's episode of the quiz show after a 40-game winning streak that stands as the second-longest of any Jeopardy player. Schneider racked up $1,382,800 over the course of her streak, which ranks as the fourth-highest total in regular-season play.
"I had a feeling that day that it might be my last day there," Schneider tells EW. "I could just feel that I was losing a certain edge — what [Golden State] Warriors coach Steve Kerr calls 'a healthy fear.' I could kind of feel that slipping away."
Schneider lost to challenger Rhone Talsma, a librarian from Chicago, by exactly $10,000; the champion finished second with a $19,600 score to Talsma's $29,600.
"A story that [former Jeopardy champion and current host] Ken Jennings had been telling before the games as he talked to the contestants was, by late in his run, the other contestants would seem to be intimidated by him, but the person who wound up beating him was the one who was just friendly and relaxed and having fun," Schneider recalls. "Rhone was exactly that way. Right before the game we'd had lunch, and I remember having a really nice conversation with him over lunch."
Wednesday's game was one of the few that was not a runaway for Schneider (meaning her score was not impossible to beat by the end of the Double Jeopardy round). Talsma located a key Daily Double clue in Double Jeopardy and responded correctly, keeping the game competitive heading into the final round. Ahead of Final Jeopardy, Talsma trailed Schneider $17,600 to $27,600.
"Full credit to Rhone, he got his opportunity finding that last Daily Double, and went for it, and bet it all to try and win the game. I knew at that point that there was no way I could keep it from going to Final Jeopardy," explains Schneider. "And I'd been struggling a bit in Final Jeopardy, and kind of getting in my head about it. So that's when I started to really be aware of the possibility [that I could lose]."
Ultimately, Schneider did not come up with a response to the Final Jeopardy clue — "The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an H, it's also one of the 10 most populous" — while Talsma responded correctly ("What is Bangladesh?").
"I'm still in shock," Talsma said in a statement. "I was so excited to be here and I just wanted to do my best. I did not expect to be facing a 40-day champion, and I was excited to maybe see someone else slay the giant. I just really didn't think it was going to be me, so I'm thrilled."
During her run, Schneider became the first transgender person to qualify for Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions, the winningest woman (both in terms of games and money) in the show's history, and the fourth millionaire and fourth highest-earning contestant in regular-season play, behind Matt Amodio ($1,518,601), James Holzhauer ($2,462,216), and current Jeopardy host Jennings ($2,520,700). Schneider and Amodio, incidentally, will face off in the Tournament of Champions later this year.
"When I'm watching Jeopardy at home and there's a woman on, that's always who I'm rooting for," Schneider says. "I know there's a lot of other smart women out there who love Jeopardy and wish they could see more women at the top of the charts there. I wish it wasn't something that was notable, but it is, and hopefully this is just one step in making it so that down the road, it isn't, and it's just part of how Jeopardy is."
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