Jeopardy! contestant Amy Schneider, a transgender woman, achieved another milestone this week, winning her 39th game in a row and becoming the player with the second-highest number of consecutive victories in the show’s history.
With Monday night’s win, Schneider surpassed the 38-win mark achieved by contestant Matt Amodio last year, and is second only to current guest host Ken Jennings, who won 75 games and more than $2.5 million in regular-season play in 2004.
“You now have the second-longest streak in Jeopardy! history,” Jennings — one of several in the running to be the new permanent host — said following Schneider’s victory, as the audience burst into applause. “Let’s see how long it’ll go, folks. We’ll find out starting tomorrow.”
In total, Schneider — who is the first transgender contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions — has amassed $1,319,8000 in winnings since making her debut during Transgender Awareness Week, meaning she has won the fourth-highest regular-season earnings, and the fifth-highest overall earnings, including championships, in show history.
Due to her steady nightly performances, she has qualified for the show’s much-revered Tournament of Champions — which will be must-see TV for die-hard Jeopardy! viewers and fans who will want to see how she fares when stacked up against other elite players.
“It still feels unreal,” the 42-year-old engineering manager from Oakland, California, said in a statement released by publicists for the show. “Knowing that I had this chance, I was definitely thinking about it. Then Ken said it, and I thought, ‘All right, I just accomplished this huge thing,’ and it was pretty great.”
Schneider is the highest-earning woman in show history, becoming the first to earn more than $1 million in a season. But the fact that she has the second-highest number of consecutive wins is noteworthy, regardless of her gender identity. That will particularly be the case if she ever manages to surpass Jennings’ record, which would make her the winningest contestant in show history.
Near Thanksgiving, Schneider began donning a transgender flag pin as a show of support for transgender people who are estranged from their families around the holidays.
“The fact is, I don’t actually think about being trans all that often, and so when appearing on national television, I wanted to represent that part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor,” the Dayton, Ohio native wrote in a Twitter thread at the time. “But I also didn’t want it to seem as if it was some kind of shameful secret.”
Schneider told The Washington Post in an interview last month that she was initially hesitant to publish the thread, due to concerns over the deluge of hateful messages that transgender Twitter users can receive on the platform. But she also realized that her visibility would mean a lot to transgender people, especially those who are closeted, and decided not to shy away from her identity.
“I just want [trans people] to know that I see them and I support them and they’re great, and they can do great things,” she said, adding that it’s possible to “be living your true self and having success and doing everything you ever wanted to do.”
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