There’s nothing quite like a game-show winning streak. It feels like a victory for the regular folks, getting to go out on TV and dominate with a secret power they can reveal to the whole world. That’s certainly the case for Jeopardy! contestant Amy Schneider, the Oakland, California-based engineering manager whose 39-game winning streak is the second-highest in the show’s 56-year history.
And funnily enough, the contestant in first place, Ken Jennings — whose 2004 run wrapped after 74 straight wins — was the one hosting as Amy made new history.
Schneider’s run started with a come-from-behind victory back on Nov. 17, 2021, when she went into Final Jeopardy behind five-day champ Andrew He. But Schneider was the only contestant who correctly identified Manhattan as the burial place of Alexander Hamilton and other early U.S. Treasury secretaries, kicking off a run which has lasted well into the new year.
It’s hard not to be charmed by Amy, who apparently hypes herself up before every game the same way I did before high school basketball games: thinking about the lyrics to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. She’s described the game show as her “Olympics,” explaining to Jennings that “I’m not going to be this good at anything else, probably.”
Until Schneider’s run, the pantheon of Jeopardy! domination has been limited to four masters: Jennings, James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio, and Brad Rutter. Between the four of them, they owned the top three spots in Jeopardy!’s four categories of success: consecutive games won, highest winnings in regular season play, single-game winnings, and all-time winnings including tournaments, the show’s equivalent of a postseason.
Jennings, whose 2004 run has become the stuff of legend, still owns the “most consecutive games” and “regular season winnings” categories with his 74-episode stint and $2,520,700 prize winnings. Holzhauer, a professional gambler, won more money in a single game of Jeopardy! than anyone else with $131,127. And Rutter, who first appeared on the game show in 2000 and most recently appeared in 2020, remains the tournaments-included money champ.
Each of the champions has their own style, which has been noted by fans. An analysis on r/Jeopardy using data from the fan-created J! Archive shows that while Amodio might have gotten more questions right per game than Schneider, she has gotten fewer questions wrong.
Schneider is also more conservative with her wagers than other elite champions. Holzhauer, for example, only needed 27 games to pass the $2 million mark. Schneider needed 28 games to achieve half of that.
But if these wagers are working for Schneider, there’s certainly no reason for her to stop. Her domination in her games is clear and consistent: She typically stays on top of her opponents throughout the first round, widens the gap throughout Double Jeopardy, and enters Final Jeopardy at a point where a correct or incorrect answer truly doesn’t matter. This was the case in her 35th consecutive victory, when even losing $20,000 through an incorrect guess on the name of France’s national theater award (the Molière) wasn’t enough to change the final outcome.
There have been some transphobic reactions to Schneider, who is trans, with some even nonsensically calling for gender-segregated divisions of Jeopardy!, which is absurd in a game show where the highest amount of physical activity is pressing a buzzer.
But it seems likely Schneider will steamroll over the haters just as easily as she has her opponents. Over on the subreddit, fans have already placed in her in Jeopardy!’s Mount Rushmore.