Amy Schneider is now not only the first out transgender person to compete in Jeopardy!’s Tournament of Champions, she is the first to win it.
Schneider claimed the title in the episode that aired Monday. Under a new system this year, the winner of the tournament was the first finalist to win three games. Schneider accomplished that against fellow finalists Andrew He and Sam Buttrey.
“I feel amazing,” Schneider said after her win, according to a press release from the show’s producers. “Earlier in the finals, I had this sudden moment of seeing myself and being like ‘I’m on stage in the Tournament of Champions finals,’ and that was crazy. And I won! It’s a great feeling.”
Schneider, a former software engineer who is now a writer living in Oakland, Calif., won the $250,000 grand prize. He, a software developer from San Francisco, won two finals games and took home $100,000 for second place. Buttrey, an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School from Pacific Grove, Calif., won one game of the finals, coming in third and winning $50,000.
Schneider emerged victorious despite finding no Daily Doubles in the final game; Buttrey found all three but still trailed both Schneider and He going into Final Jeopardy! At that point Schneider was in the lead with $15,600, He had $14,200, and Buttrey had $8,000. Buttrey wagered everything and did not provide the correct response, while both Schneider and He responded correctly. He’s wager was $2,801, so he finished with $17,001, and Schneider wagered $13,000 for a final score of $28,600 to win the game and the tournament.
The Tournament of Champions finals was a rematch between Schneider and He. In their first meeting in season 38, Schneider ended He’s five-game streak and kicked off her historic 40-game run on the show, which landed her in the number 2 spot all-time behind only Ken Jennings, who now hosts the show.
“I both wanted to [compete against He] and was afraid of facing him again,” Schneider said. “I knew he was one of the top competitors in the field. He was definitely someone that I knew could beat me because he very nearly did before, and he did a couple of times here as well. Any of the three of us really could have won if a very small number of things had gone differently. I’m glad we got a really fair chance to test our skills against each other, and I’d love to play him again someday, somehow.”
Schneider, who is the top-winning woman in Jeopardy! history, has used her visibility as a trans contestant to advocate for trans people and LGBTQ+ people in general. She urged voters to choose trans-supportive candidates in the midterm election and testified against an anti-trans bill in her native state of Ohio. Another highlight of Schneider’s year was marrying girlfriend Genevieve Davis.
Speaking to The Advocate in January, she said positive trans visibility was the most important thing about her Jeopardy! run. “It’s definitely been the most rewarding part of the whole experience,” she said.