The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Jeopardy!’ champ Amy Schneider’s 21st win in a row makes her the show’s winningest woman

Amy Schneider competes on “Jeopardy!” (Casey Durkin/Jeopardy Productions)
Placeholder while article actions load

Amy Schneider grew up watching “Jeopardy!,” honing her trivia skills from an early age. Now, decades later, a legion of fans young and old are watching her set record after record as a long-running champion on the show. On Wednesday, she notched her 21st straight victory, the most by a woman.

The milestone comes during a remarkable run for Schneider, an engineering manager who grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and now lives in Oakland, Calif. Last week she became the woman with the most all-time earnings in “Jeopardy!” history, and on Tuesday she tied Julia Collins’s 2014 mark of 20 consecutive wins. Earlier this year, she became the first transgender contestant to make the Tournament of Champions, where the top players from each season compete.

Schneider, 42, now holds a top-five spot in three of the show’s four Hall of Fame categories: consecutive games won, highest winnings during regular-season play and all-time winnings — despite having yet to participate in a lucrative tournament. As of Wednesday, she had earned $806,000.

“That is quite a streak,” guest host Ken Jennings, who holds the record for most wins in a row, said after Schneider’s latest win.

Schneider has been intentional about paying homage to the women whose records she has broken. After she surpassed Larissa Kelly’s $655,930 of all-time earnings, Kelly congratulated her on setting “new standards for excellence, on the show and off.”

“I’m honored to be in your company,” Schneider replied on Twitter. “And I look forward to some day watching the woman who beats us both!”

And on the episode where she recorded her 20th win, she wore a mauve sweater inspired by Collins, who in addition to racking up wins and hundreds of thousands of dollars became known for her impressive sweater collection.

“I wanted to wear a sweater because that was kind of her thing,” Schneider said on the show, referring to Collins, whom she named as one of her favorite players. “Obviously being such a successful woman on the show is meaningful to me. … She played very straightforward, just being smart, just being fast on that buzzer, and I like that about her as well.”

“Jeopardy!” episodes are recorded months before they air, but Schneider has taken to publishing postgame recaps after each show appears on TV, giving fans extra insight into her mentality and approach during a given contest.

In her Wednesday tweet thread analyzing her record-tying win, she said she and Collins have similar play styles, but she never imagined she would make it so far.

“It happened months ago for me, and I’m still trying to take it in,” Schneider wrote. “In my highest of high hopes, I never dreamed of matching Julia’s streak. It’s hard to say how I felt: proud, dazed, happy, numb, all those things.”

Schneider will have a chance to continue her streak this week, and could amass even more money at the next Tournament of Champions, where she could face another record-breaking recent contestant, Matt Amodio, who registered 38 wins and $1.5 million in his turn on the show this year.

Amy Schneider has made ‘Jeopardy!’ history — and helped the show find calm after chaos

The back-to-back bouts of record-smashing cap a tumultuous year for the iconic show after the loss of legendary host Alex Trebek, who died in 2020. Trebek’s replacement, former executive producer Mike Richards, was hired and fired in rapid succession, and the show has leaned on a rotating cast of guest hosts since, most recently former “Jeopardy!” champion Jennings.

In a December interview with The Washington Post, Schneider said she thinks people feel her historic run “has been good for ‘Jeopardy!’”

“I hope that’s the case, and it’s extremely gratifying,” she said. “The show has meant a lot to me … and if my run is good for the show, that’s all the better.”

Schneider has also said her success has had an impact on her personally — she is now, suddenly, a public figure, who gets recognized in grocery stores, and she has discussed the importance of representation and supporting the trans community.

In a recent interview with GLAAD, an LGBTQ media advocacy organization, Schneider said she hopes her time on the show inspires future trans contestants and shows that “there’s not an area in life in which we can’t succeed and excel.”

“That just because you haven’t seen anybody do it yet doesn’t mean somebody isn’t going to do it,” Schneider said. “Whatever it is you want to do, it can be done.”

Emily Yahr contributed to this report.

Read more:

The enduring moments of 2021, as told by Post reporters

Hugh Jackman tests positive for coronavirus as Broadway’s ‘The Music Man’ cancels performances

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is a big, fat Christmas present for fans

2021 in food: Cicadas, TikTok pasta and a rough return to restaurants