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After a surprising defeat, 'Jeopardy!' fans reflect on Amy Schneider's historic run


If you've been watching "Jeopardy!" over the past couple months, you have seen one contestant, Amy Schneider, absolutely dominate people.


AMY SCHNEIDER: What is "Zoolander"?

What is penicillin?

What is Sri Lanka?

What is babushka?

KELLY: So the end of last night's episode probably came as a big surprise.


KEN JENNINGS: Over our champion, Amy Schneider. Did she come up with Bangladesh? You looked at this for a long time - no response. You're going to finish in second place with 19,600. Rhone Talsma, you are our new "Jeopardy!" champion.


Schneider's defeat was a huge upset. And by upset, I mean people were really upset.

REBECCA HIRSCH: I was genuinely completely in shock for at least a minute.

KELLY: That is Rebecca Hirsch (ph), a "Jeopardy!" super fan from New York. She says that watching Schneider over the last few months has been thrilling.

HIRSCH: She seemed to know literally everything. But, I mean, it's shocking every time when you hear, like, the wildest question that you can't even imagine what the answer is.

MICHAEL VANCE: "Jeopardy!" is and always has been two different games. Eighty percent of the questions, probably all three of the contestants know the answer.

KHALID: That's Michael Vance, another "Jeopardy!" super fan who also competed on the show back in 2004.

VANCE: So much of it does come down to the buzzer, and Amy's been a natural on the buzzer from the beginning. And that is also one of the big advantages that the returning champ has - that they've had practice at it.

KELLY: Despite Schneider's loss, her historic run has cemented her as one of the greatest contestants in the show's history. She earned nearly $1.4 million in her 40-game run, making her the second-longest running "Jeopardy!" contestant, the highest winning female contestant and the first trans contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions.

KHALID: Danna Bodenheimer, a psychotherapist who works specifically with the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia, says the way Schneider represented her identity on "Jeopardy!" was refreshing.

DANNA BODENHEIMER: Amy was able to both center and decenter her transness in a way where, you know, we were aware of it and it was completely secondary to the game itself.

KELLY: Bodenheimer says that Schneider's run has been inspiring for both her and her child, Lee, who identifies as trans and non-binary.

LEE: She made me think that this would help trans people, like, have more impact on the world.

KHALID: Although many fans are sad to see Amy Schneider's streak come to an end, this is not the last we will see of her. She is set to compete on this year's Tournament of Champions.

(SOUNDBITE OF PDP'S "GOODBYE FOR NOW") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michael Levitt