‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Opens Up About 10 Year Quest to Get on Show, Losing to Amy Schneider

by Josh Lanier
(Photo Via Getty Images)

South Carolina attorney Clark Dawson said getting on Jeopardy! was a long-held dream, but she ran into a “buzz saw.” That saw was Amy Schneider, the then-31-day-champ of the game show, who cut apart Dawson and another opponent on Thursday’s episode.

Dawson grew up watching Jeopardy!. She hoped to make it onto the series one day and started taking the online test 10 years ago, she told The State newspaper.

She finally got the call recently and flew out to California a few days later. Jeopardy! wouldn’t allow her husband and their three children to attend the taping because of the pandemic. They watched from home on a Zoom call. Unfortunately, that’s largely what she did: watch. Amy Schneider answered 55 percent of the questions correctly. Dawson got 15 percent. The other 30 went to Cory Anotado, stats show.

After she returned home to South Carolina, Dawson didn’t have any issue with her performance on the show. She was happy to be a footnote in Schneider’s Jeopardy! conquest.

“I had a front-row seat to history in my nerdy world,” she said. “It was my 15 minutes of fame.”

Before the show, Clark Dawson was hopeful she’d be the one to unseat Schneider’s Jeopardy! dominance. Dawson tried to psych out the champion, as Schneider recalled.

“People were potentially a bit intimidated when they heard how well I’d been doing,” Schneider told the LA Times, “and so one of the things [former champ and current guest host Ken Jennings] would say is … ‘When I was playing, people would be really nervous. They wouldn’t want to hang around me. But the person that eventually beat me was the one that was super friendly and wanted to hang out with me.’”

“And immediately, with perfect deadpan timing, [contestant Clark Dawson] turns to me and says, ‘Amy, I want to hang out with you.’”

Celebrity ‘Jeopardy!’ Fan Talks Importance of Schneider’s wins

Amy Schneider is now third all-time in Jeopardy! wins and fourth in money earned in regular-season play. The wins have made her a pop-culture phenomenon, and many people hope she uses this success to spread awareness of transgender issues.

Dancer and model Leiomy Maldonado thinks Schneider can do a lot of good with her new mainstream popularity. She can reach people that may not be aware of the issues in the LGBTQ community.

“It will [Amy] educate people and especially back in the day they were very ignorant about differences, very ignorant about different ways of how humans live their life,” she says. “So I think this is a great way to cross that bridge.”

Schneider hopes to be a positive role model. Representation matters, she said, and it’s something she didn’t have growing up.

“I know that in my life, [it’s great] to see trans women out there, not being the sort of freaks or prostitutes, or other things that until only a few years ago was all you ever saw them as,” she told Newsweek last month. “So as that changed, as I’ve been able to see them in other contexts — as the human beings that they are — that’s been really important for me. And so I’m just really glad to be able to do that same thing for other people.”