‘Jeopardy!’: Why Amy Schneider’s Record Breaking Run Couldn’t Have Happened 20 Years Ago

by Leanne Stahulak
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Although this season of “Jeopardy!” has been the time of super champions, they wouldn’t have been able to set these incredible records 20 years ago.

In just Season 38 alone, we’ve watched Matt Amodio set a new record for 38 consecutive wins and $1.5 million in earnings. Jonathan Fisher followed him up with 11 wins, becoming the first back-to-back double digits champions. And now, Amy Schneider reigns supreme with 35 wins and $1.1 million in winnings.

Both Schneider and Amodio overtook James Holzhauer’s previous record of 32 wins (though he still holds the No. 2 spot for winnings at $2.4 million). And of course, we can’t forget about Ken Jennings’ revolutionary “Jeopardy!” run back in 2004 with 74 wins and $2.5 million.

But a little-known fact about “Jeopardy!” pus all those achievements into perspective. Because up until 2003, contestants could not win more than five games in a row.

According to Good Housekeeping, former executive producer Harry Friedman implemented all these radical changes in the early 2000s. He abolished the five-day limit rule in 2003, which originally went into effect when Alex Trebek started hosting “Jeopardy!” in 1984. The move proved to be huge for the game show, whose ratings shot up by 30% during Jennings’ 74-day run the next year.

Other key changes from Friedman include the creation of the “Jeopardy!” Clue Crew, which travels around the world recording visual clues to be used on the show. That started up in 2001, around the same time that Friedman also made changes to “Wheel of Fortune.” He produced that show as well and finally made the decision to switch out host Vanna White’s manual puzzle board for an electronic one.

Where Does ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Amy Schneider Go From Here?

If it weren’t for Harry Friedman, we wouldn’t be cheering on current “Jeopardy!” champ Amy Schneider today. As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, Schneider’s won 35 consecutive games, the most of any woman in the history of the show. If she finishes out this week with wins, then she’ll officially tie Matt Amodio for the record.

We already can’t wait to see Schneider and Amodio go head to head in the upcoming Tournament of Champions. “Jeopardy!” accounted that the tournament will take place this November, after another regular season of the game show wraps. Current executive producer Michal Davies revealed that they want to treat “Jeopardy!” more like a sport, which means having a structured “season” and “postseason.”

In addition to Amodio and Schneider, fans can expect to see the Professors Tournament winner, Sam Buttrey, competing. They’ll also face off against Jonathan Fisher, Courtney Shah, Brian Chang, Zach Newkirk, Andrew He, Tyler Rhode, and John Focht. Stay tuned to find out more about the upcoming Tournament and when it premieres.