LOS ANGELES – “Danger!” Champion Amy Schneider’s dazzling streak of victories is over. On Wednesday, a Chicago librarian fixed it after 40 consecutive wins and nearly $1.4 million in prize money.
Schneider’s success has placed her on par with guest host Ken Jennings and other great quiz contestants. It also made Schneider, a trans woman, a visible symbol of achievement for often marginalized people.
“It’s still a little hard to believe,” she said of her impressive run. “This is what I will be remembered for, and it’s very cool,”
New champion Rona Talsma correctly answered the final phrase “Danger!” the key to the $29,600 total winnings. Schneider, who found herself in the unusual position of advancing to the final round short of a rout, was second with $19,600.
“I’m still in shock,” Talsma said in a statement. “I didn’t expect to face the 40 day champion and I was excited that maybe someone else would kill the giant. I just really didn’t think it would be me, so I’m ecstatic.”
Schneider told The Associated Press that Talsma played well and did a “great job of taking opportunities when they came and putting himself in position to be able to win.”
The answer that baffled Schneider was about the countries of the world: the only nation whose name ends in “h” in English, and which is also among the ten most populous. (Play the music “Jeopardy!” – and the answer is: “What is Bangladesh?”)
Among her immediate reactions when the game and her streak ended: she was sad, but also relieved that “I don’t have to make up jokes anymore,” the stories the contestants share between games.
Participants receive their winnings after the final broadcast of the game, and Schneider’s spending plans include shopping for clothes and, especially, travel.
A managerial engineer and Dayton, Ohio native who lives in Oakland, California. Schneider’s regular season performance made her No. 2 in consecutive games won, putting her between Jennings with 74 games and Matt Amodio, a 38-game winner in 2021.
Schneider’s $1,382,800 total prize money ranks her fourth on the regular season winnings list behind Jennings ($2,520,700), James Holzhauer ($2,462,216) and Amodio ($1,518,601).
Schneider will take part in the Tournament of Champions show and become the first transgender person to qualify.
She was ready for her streak to end, she told AP.
“I had a feeling that my time was coming to an end, although it didn’t look like that on the bills,” Schneider said. The routine of traveling to Los Angeles to record—five gigs a day, two days a week—was exhausting, and it took its toll.
She added that after surpassing Amodio’s tally in consecutive wins, the prospect of trying to break Jennings’ longtime record was “difficult to imagine”.
Schneider’s deep knowledge, lightning-fast responses, and gracious yet efficient demeanor have won her a dedicated following. Comedy writer Louis Virtel, formerly of Jeopardy! a contestant tweeted earlier this month that Schneider was like “an employee assigned to each episode, and when she’s done, she picks up her briefcase, nods, and leaves.”
She was also admired for her handling of anti-trans trolls, and one low-key response drew a yell at her from writer and Broadway star Harvey Fierstein.
“The best outcome of all this will always be any help I can offer to the trans community,” Schneider said. “I am here because of the sacrifices that countless trans people have made, often to the point where they risked their lives. To contribute to the advancement of this cause is really special.”
Schneider has a message for “Danger!” viewers who will miss having her part of their daily routine: “I realized that I really feel so sad for all my fans. … I want to thank them for their support and tell them everything is fine.”
In the season until January 17, “Danger!” ranked as the most watched syndicated program with an average of 9.4 million viewers, an increase of 563,000 from last season. According to Nielsen, the show averaged 11 million viewers during the week of January 10-17.
The Schneider and Amodio strips helped ease “Jeopardy!” behind a bungled replacement for a beloved host, the late Alex Trebek. Executive producer Mike Richards was chosen by Sony Pictures Television to replace Trebek last year but quickly left the show after old podcasts resurfaced that included his misogynistic and other derogatory comments.
A permanent host has yet to be named, but Mayim Bialik, who has been named host of the primetime Jeopardy! specials, and Jennings is trading this season. Jennings is also a consulting producer on the show.