What is: a total badass?
If that’s the question, then reigning “Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider is surely the answer.
She debuted on the show last November, in the middle of its Trans Awareness Week – and has been unstoppable ever since. As of last night, she has been named the winner for 24 consecutive episodes, and has earned nearly $900,000 in winnings along the way.
It’s not just impressive, especially as many of her wins have been “runaways” – it’s also historic. Schneider is now the longest-running woman winner in “Jeopardy!” history. She is also the first trans woman to ever earn a spot in the show’s Tournament of Champions.
The engineering manager from Oakland, California has had to grapple with some significant hurdles along her journey to triumph though, including transphobic comments from Internet users and, more recently, a robbery.
She responded to the former with the same sharp wit she’s shown ABC audiences over the course of several dozen episodes. “I’d like to thank all the people who have taken the time, during this busy holiday season, to reach out and explain to me that, actually, I’m a man,” she tweeted. “Every single one of you is the first person ever to make that very clever point, which had never once before crossed my mind.”
In fact, Schneider is proud of her identity as a trans woman – though she does not want that to be her sole defining characteristic to viewers. During one episode, she wore a pin of the transgender flag on one of her outfits, in a bid to “represent that part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor” – because, as she notes, she is “a lot of other things, too!”
Including a life-long “Jeopardy!” fan, it seems. “I’ve always watched it, and I’ve also always been interested in learning facts and stuff,” the 42-year-old contestant said in an interview with Yahoo! News, adding that she could even recall watching the show as a kindergartener. “And as I mentioned on the show, in eighth grade I was voted Most Likely to Be on ‘Jeopardy!’ One Day. It was always sort of in my mind that it might be something I did at some point.”
We’ll be watching to see how long Schneider’s winning streak lasts – though given the breadth of sheer knowledge she’s displayed on the show thus far, she probably knew that answer going in.