‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Amy Schneider Reveals What Gave Her a Head Start

by Jennifer Shea

Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider has won $631,400 on Jeopardy! and become the first transgender contestant to make it to the Tournament of Champions. But the 42-year-old Jeopardy! champ says she had a few advantages when it came to Jeopardy!.

For one thing, she has watched the show since childhood, so she knows her way around a Jeopardy! episode. For another, she claims she was born with the innate ability to remember random trivia.

“I’ve always watched it and I’ve also always been interested in learning facts and stuff,” she told Yahoo Entertainment recently. “And as I mentioned on the show, in eighth grade I was voted Most Likely to Be on Jeopardy! One Day. It was always sort of in my mind that it might be something I did at some point.”

Jeopardy! Champion Talks About Her Head Start

Schneider also credits her family with giving her a head start on Jeopardy! stardom. She says her parents valued “knowledge in general,” and that helped fuel her drive to learn more trivia.

“Just coming from a family that was well-educated, valued education and knowledge in general… gave me a great head start,” she told Yahoo Entertainment.

Plus, in an essay this month for Defector, Schneider wrote that she had some other innate advantages going in to Jeopardy!.

“I was born with a brain that, for whatever reason, retains knowledge well,” she confesses in the essay. “Another factor, of course, is my privilege. Unlike most people in history, I wasn’t born into grinding poverty, and my parents believed in the value of knowledge as its own reward. Moreover, I am white, and until well into adulthood, was perceived as male.”

But all that wasn’t enough to win Schneider a Jeopardy! game in and of itself. She also had to practice. A lot.

Schneider reportedly studied J!archive.com, reading over past Jeopardy! clues to train her brain to think like a Jeopardy! champ. She read it during free time, on commutes, whenever she had a spare moment to skim the archive.

Schneider Wants Trans People to Be Viewed as ‘Just Normal People’

Meanwhile, Schneider recognizes that her Jeopardy! winning streak is a major first for trans people. But she doesn’t want it to be seen as out of the ordinary.

“Anything that can be done to show trans people as just normal people I think is a great thing,” she told Yahoo. “We want to get to a point where trans people are less pioneering and like, you know, that the first trans person to do whatever is just kind of like, whatever! Why wouldn’t a trans person do that? Like, they could do anything that anyone else can do, and there’s nothing unusual about it.”

Schneider hopes her newfound fame will help other trans people with self-acceptance. So far, she says, people who recognize her out in public have been very pleasant about her Jeopardy! stint, and she hopes that will continue to be the case.