One of the more problematic parts of Jeopardy! is the buzzer. If you’re too fast, the show locks you out from buzzing again for a second — an eternity on the game show. If you’re too slow someone else will get there first. So, not only do you need to know the name of the three witches from Macbeth, but you also need to have the reflexes of a fighter pilot to ring first and on time.
The buzzer vexes all Jeopardy! players. Even the greats have openly discussed their struggles with it. Amy Schneider, who’s on a 34-game winning streak, recently opened up to Ken Jennings about her own tough time with ringing in.
“I do feel like every game I have to play my way into the buzzer a little bit at the beginning before I feel like I’m really locked into it,” she said after Monday’s victory.
The numbers back this up. Out of the four top Jeopardy! players — according to wins and total money won — Schneider is the slowest on the buzzer. She buzzed in first just 51 percent of the time. Jeopardy! GOAT Jennings got in almost 60 percent of the time first. Matt Amodio and James Holzhauer got in first 55 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
The Jeopardy! Fan blog did a statistical breakdown of all of the players through their first 34 games. Holzhauer only played in 33, though. The thing they all have in common is they know the answers and had one skill they could exploit to give them an advantage.
Where Schneider shines could be because of the buzzer, though. She’s the best of the four greats in rebounds, meaning answering a question after someone else gets it wrong. Other contestants on the show have admitted to feeling intimidated going head to head with Schneider. Being nervous could make a contestant jump at questions they don’t know, giving her the chance to move in.
What Will Amy Schneider Pay in Taxes on ‘Jeopardy!’ Winnings?
Amy Schneider recently became only the fourth person in Jeopardy! history to earn $1 million on the show during regular play. She’s banked more than $1.1 million in total now and is stalking Matt Amodio’s $1.5 million total to secure third place all-time.
Yes, she’s a millionaire now, but it’s not all good news. As Notorious B.I.G. said, “mo money, mo problems.” She has to worry about the taxman.
“She’s going to have a pretty hefty tax bill because the income she’s earned on the show is ordinary income,” said Megan Gorman, managing partner at Chequers Financial Management. “She’ll be paying some of the top rates in the United States on this income.”
Her winnings move her into the top tax bracket for federal taxes and in California, where Jeopardy! films. Her federal tax rate is 37 percent. Passing the $1 million threshold also means she’ll need to pay an additional 13.3 percent, Gorman noted.
Schneider will be lucky to bring home $500,000 if her winning streak ended today, Gorman told CNBC.
“It’s a pretty arduous win from a tax perspective,” Gorman told CNBC. Though winning one million dollars on a game show is an incredible feat, “it’s pretty amazing how much of it goes to taxes.”