'Jeopardy!' Champion Amy Schneider's Historic Run Ends in an Upset

After winning 40 consecutive Jeopardy! games, Amy Schneider finally met a contestant she could not beat. During her 41st game, which aired on Wednesday night, the engineering manager from Oakland, California lost to Rhone Talsma, a Chicago librarian. Schneider finished her run with $1,382,800 in winnings and had the second-longest winning streak in the show's history.

Schnieder also set several other records. When she won her 10th game, she became the first transgender person to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, reports Variety. She is only the fourth contestant ever to reach $1 million in winnings, and the first woman to achieve that. The only champion with a longer winning streak is Ken Jennings, with 74 wins. Jennings is now serving as part-time Jeopardy! host, splitting time with Mayim Bialik, while Sony Pictures Television finds a permanent successor for the late Alex Trebek. When she returns for the Tournament of Champions at the end of the season, Schneider will play against Matt Amodio, who won 38 games in a row.

Schnieder was surprised by her success on the show. "I'm pretty good at it, and I think if things go well, I could probably win three or four games," she told USA Today. "This has been a show that has been part of my life as long as I can remember, that I've loved my whole life. To know that I'm always going to be associated with it, always going to be part of Jeopardy! history is just a really cool feeling."

Wednesday's night's game, which was filmed back in November, got away from Schneider during Double Jeopardy! when a Daily Double helped Talmsa take a bite out of her lead. Schneider still had a lead going into Final Jeopardy!, but it wasn't insurmountable, especially if Schneider provided the wrong response. The clue was "The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an H, it's also one of the 10 most populous." Schneider was stumped, but Talsma correctly answered Bangladesh. He added $12,000 to his total, which climbed to $29,600. Schneider ended the show with $19,600.

"This is my favorite show," Talsma said in a statement released by the show. "I was so excited to be here, and I just wanted to do my best. 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."


One of the bright spots of leaving the show is that Schneider did not have to come up with any more anecdotes to share with Jennings. "Beyond that, it had been a lot. It had been a disruption in my life," she told USA Today of being on the show. "I haven't been able to spend as much time with my girlfriend and my cat. So there's definitely a part of me that was like, 'I'm glad I can just get back to all that.'"