On Wednesday (26 January), Chicago-based librarian Rhone Talsma ended Schneider’s run on the popular quiz show.
After the episode, Schneider told the Associated Press she had been bracing for this moment for a while.
She explained: “I had a feeling my time was winding down, even though it didn’t look that way in the scores. The routine of traveling to Los Angeles for tapings – five shows a day, two days a week – was tiring, and that took a toll.”
Schneider also said she was relieved that “I don’t have to come up with anymore anecdotes,” or the stories that contestants share during game breaks.
“The best outcome of all of this always is going to be whatever help I’ve been able to offer the trans community,” she continued, adding, “I’m here because of the sacrifices countless trans people have made, often to the extent of risking their lives. To do my part to move that cause forward, it’s really special.”
An engineering manager who currently lives in Oakland, Schneider’s regular-season play made her No 2 in consecutive games won, placing her between contestants Ken Jennings with 74 games and Matt Amodio, winner of 38 games in 2021.
Already the highest-earning female contestant on the show’s history, Schneider is now also the first trans person to ever qualify for Jeopardy!’s “Tournament of Greats”.
She won a devoted fanbase during her time on the show, thanks to her impressive knowledge, speedy answers and gracious but efficient manner.
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After she surpassed Amodio’s tally of consecutive victories, the prospect of trying to break Jennings’ long-standing record was “hard to imagine”, Schneider added during her conversation with AP.
New champ Talsma had the correct response to the final Jeopardy! clue for a winning total of $29,600 (£22,050). Schneider, who found herself in the unusual position of entering the last round short of a runaway, was second with $19,600 (£14,60).
The answer that stumped Schneider was about countries of the world. The only nation whose name in English ends in an “h” and which is also one of the 10 most populous. (The correct response was, “What is Bangladesh?”)
“I’m still in shock,” Talsma said in a statement. “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.”
Schneider said Talsma played well and did a “great job of taking the opportunities when they came up and putting himself position to be able to win.”
Comedy writer Louis Virtel, a former Jeopardy! contestant, tweeted earlier this month that Schneider was like a “case worker 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, with one measured reply prompting a shoutout to her from writer and Broadway star Harvey Fierstein.
Additional reporting by Associated Press