‘Jeopardy!’: Amy Schneider Says the Game Show ‘Is Becoming More Like a Sport’

by Chris Piner

Although dating back to the 1960s, the format that most have come to love about the game show Jeopardy! started in 1984 with Alex Trebek. Since then, the show has become what some consider to be the greatest game show in television history. But while the format hasn’t changed in decades, a new type of player has. Once known for stumping players, Jeopardy! is now a place of champions. And what is more surprising is the fact that it seemed to happen overnight. 

Some of the most stunning games in Jeopardy! happened within the last two years with Matt Amodio winning 38 games, Mattea Roach taking 23 games with precision, and Ryan Long running for 15 episodes just last month. The amount of stars Jeopardy! has seen over the last few years dwarfs earlier seasons of the show. And who could forget one of the most famous winners, Ken Jennings. He stands the king of Jeopardy! With a staggering 73 wins. He completed the historic feat back in 2004. 

Amy Schneider Fights With Mercy On Jeopardy!

Speaking about the game and her approach to winnings, Amy Schneider, another Jeopardy! great with 40 consecutive wins, explained how she constantly has to fight to be merciful to other players. Known for being skilled and brutal, Schneider admitted, “I had to be really conscious of fighting [my mercy]. When I was getting pumped up before the game I was telling myself, ‘This is for a house. These people are trying to take away me and my wife’s house. I can’t let that happen.” She added, “It’s becoming more like a sport. There are people like I am who’ve been studying hard and going there to win. It’s more professionalized, and I think it’s a great change.”

Trying to understand the wave of champions, Claire McNear, writer for The Ringer, suggested, “When we first started seeing this barrage of winning streaks, there were a lot of people — including some of the champions themselves — who argued that this was just a statistical aberration. It was the infinite monkeys at infinite typewriters theory: If you put enough nerds at enough buzzers for enough time, sooner or later you’ll get some very successful nerds back to back to back.”

Playing The Board And Capitalizing On The Daily Double

The theory from McNear is shared by many fans of Jeopardy!. Some suggest the key to dominating the show is to seek out the Daily Doubles and when found – bet big. Even Schneider admitted to it, “My whole life I felt like people were too conservative with their wagering. It’s hard to do it when you’re on stage, because it’s your own money. But people do wager more aggressively than they used to. If you’re successful it makes those late-game comebacks a lot less likely.”

For Andy Saunders, who runs a Jeopardy! blog, the answer was simple – COVID-19. The fan claimed the show has a bigger pool to pick from thanks to online auditions. “It reduced the barrier of entry for a lot of people, because prior to that, you had to make a pretty big investment of time or money, because if you weren’t in a big city, you’d have to travel to the audition. It was hard to commit, especially when there was no guarantee they were going to get on.”