Amy Schneider can finally celebrate her victory at Jeopardy

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OAKLAND, Calif. – When the “Jeopardy!” of 40 days of Amy Schneider! the winning streak ended, she said she handed out thank you notes to the crew, briefly chatted with other competitors, and then apologized.

“I went to the bathroom, cried for about 30 or 40 seconds, pulled myself together and walked out,” Ms Schneider said Friday from her sunny Oakland apartment.

The way she recounted her loss mirrors the way she performed on “Jeopardy!” ”: quickly, efficiently and with down-to-earth warmth.

“It wasn’t just a feeling of sadness, there was a feeling of relief,” she added. “It was so exhausting.”

Ms. Schneider’s continued success on the show meant that once her episodes began taping in late September, she competed in five games a day, twice a week for several consecutive weeks, commuting from Oakland to Los Angeles.

By the time she filmed her final episode on Nov. 9, she had suffered a demotion at work, used all of her paid time off, and taken several unpaid days off in order to keep her job as a software engineer.

She left the show after earning $1,382,800. But this week, her check hadn’t arrived yet, and Ms. Schneider was still working full-time.

“It started airing when I found out I had done this kind of historic thing and nobody else knew about it,” she said.

She was a virtuoso in terms of precision and speed, but unlike Mr. Amodio, her playing style was traditional. Ms Schneider preferred to play a single category vertically from lowest score to highest score rather than playing on the lucrative bottom line, a style popularized by James Holzhauer, who won $2,464,216 during his streak of 32 games in 2019. Ms. Schneider did not rebound. around the board looking for Daily Doubles in the style of previous contestants like Chuck Forrest and Arthur Chu. And his bets tended to be conservative.

His strategy paid off. Ms. Schneider left the show as the highest-earning woman in the show’s history. She is already a legend among the two “Jeopardy!” fans and former competitors.

“The depth and breadth of her knowledge is remarkable,” said Terry Wolfisch Cole, one of 82 contestants who competed against Ms Schneider during her run on the show.

The day I met Ms. Schneider, she had already given three interviews. If she was tired of talking to reporters, she didn’t show it.

She greeted me wearing a large white polka dot oxblood dress from Anthropologie that revealed a large tattoo on her left arm of the titular character from L. Frank Baum’s novel “Ozma of Oz.” Ozma has a special meaning for Ms. Schneider. “When she was a child, she was kidnapped and bewitched by an evil witch and raised as a boy,” she said.

“And then the enchantment was lifted and she revealed herself to be the beautiful princess she had been all along,” Ms Schneider said.

Instead of her signature beads, she wore a necklace depicting the star, one of her favorite tarot cards. The necklace was a gift from his girlfriend, Genevieve Davis, 25, who is from Oakland and works as a nanny. The night they met, Mrs. Schneider gave Mrs. Davis a tarot reading. Ms Schneider describes herself as an atheist who doesn’t believe in the occult or the supernatural but, as she said, “it’s not queer dating cute if it’s not tarot”.

Ms Schneider came to tarot through her ex-wife, who introduced her to Rachel Pollack’s book ’78 Degrees of Wisdom’. Tarot would have been out of the question when she was growing up in Dayton, Ohio. Catholicism was very important to her family, and Ms. Schneider struggled with her faith when she was younger.

She recounted a time in 2002 when she drove with her brother and two cousins ​​to Toronto to see Pope John Paul II for World Youth Day. Ms. Schneider agreed to the trip in part to avoid telling her mother that she no longer considered herself Catholic.

They had waited in a field the previous night to secure their pitches, but had neglected to bring tents or camping gear. As they were trying to sleep, it started to rain. Then the liturgical music began to sound over the public address system.

This time became a benchmark for Ms. Schneider. “Whenever it’s bad, I think, ‘I’m not lying in a field in the rain,'” she said.

Since transitioning in 2017, Ms Schneider said she has made it a point to say yes to new experiences. “Because there were so many things I denied myself for so long, I’m going to try anything now.”

This included getting into stand-up comedy, piercing her nose and entering a new relationship, her first since splitting from her wife in 2016.

Now 42, Ms Schneider is in love with her new girlfriend. The two openly gushed about each other, shared intimate jokes and doted on their long-haired black cat, Meep, whose toys were strewn across their living room floor. (In case you need any further proof that Ms. Schneider loves cats, she scrubs her dishes with cat-shaped sponges and chops her vegetables on a cat-shaped cutting board.)

“I’ve had two serious relationships in my life, and this is the second,” Ms Schneider said. “When I met the one who became my wife, I had never kissed anyone and I was 25 years old.”

There is an unfortunate pattern of “Jeopardy!” alumni – especially women – targeted online after their appearances. Former contestants recounted incidents that included insults, scary messages and outright threats.

To prepare for this, Ms Schneider followed the advice offered to all new contestants by the show’s producers, including closing her social media accounts. She also created the @Jeopardamy Instagram and Twitter accounts for the public. Yet these precautions have not prevented online harassment.

So far, she has mostly ignored the vitriol directed at her, or responded with sarcasm, as she did in a tweet “thank you” she posted on New Years Eve.

Several weeks ago, Ms. Schneider was robbed at gunpoint in the lobby of her apartment building. She was not physically injured and stressed that she did not believe the incident was related to her appearance in “Jeopardy!” However, this is not his favorite topic of conversation.

“I tweeted about it, and so it was public, and it’s on me,” she said. “But for people in my life to find out what happened to me by seeing a news article was a slightly disturbing thing.”

When preparing to compete, Ms. Schneider had to decide what she wanted to look like. She brought a favorite pink blazer and took a few trips to Target and Nordstrom Rack. She said she “overpacked” jewelry, but after winning a few matches in pearls, she thought the public might like it if she continued with a signature accessory.

She also thought about how she wanted to sound.

“I have a more feminine voice when I really want it, and I kind of planned to use that voice on TV,” she said. But she eventually decided that consciously altering her voice might affect her gameplay and opted to speak in her usual register. She is proud of this decision.

“Trans women watching can see me with my voice as it is and see me being okay with it,” she said.

Her voice had once been a source of dysphoria for Ms Schneider, but now she plans to make a career out of it. She recently signed with talent agency CAA and said she was interested in voice acting.

She is also considering a return to podcasting. She and her ex-wife used to co-host a “Downton Abbey” podcast, and she hosted a show on “Moby-Dick” and a tarot podcast titled “These are just maps.”

“Peril!” prohibits contestants from appearing on other game shows for six months after their appearance on the show, but after that Ms Schneider is also open to further appearances on game shows, which may well suit her time supernatural response.

She practiced for “Jeopardy!” using click pens and said she didn’t know she had a knack for buzzing until she was on the show. This fact will no doubt frustrate many contestants, some of whom train with special buzzers, designed to mimic those used in the “Jeopardy!” studios, to save milliseconds from their buzzing.

On Friday, Ms Schneider went to the Heart and Dagger Saloon in Oakland to watch herself perform. She sat down on a bar stool to order a sauvignon blanc and a packet of Parliament Lights.

Another customer asked a bartender if the TV would be tuned to the Warriors game. “No, we’re watching ‘Jeopardy!’ replied the bartender, nodding to Mrs. Schneider. The man brightened when he recognized the champion sitting next to him. “Amazing! Cheers!” he said, toasting her. Moments later, a bearded man sitting next to him leaned over and asked, “Did you get robbed?”

Mrs. Schneider smiled and nodded. “Yes, I got robbed.”

During the 30 minutes of the show, two patrons sent free drinks, which were happily accepted by Ms. Schneider.

After seeing herself win $25,000 in Final Jeopardy, Ms. Schneider went to the bar terrace with Ms. Davis and their friend Hilary Hays.

Ms. Hays manages the @Jeopardamy Instagram account. “I was like, ‘Let’s go put you on Instagram and give you some free stuff!'” Ms Hays said, using an expletive.

The Instagram account features a collection of portraits courtesy of the show that are remarkably similar. Ms. Schneider is almost always framed identically, smiling in front of the show’s blue decor, her head bowed, pearls around her neck. Her clothes are conservative and the captions are blunt: “Day 32: I’ve worn this blouse a few times now and who doesn’t love a good find of @target?”

“I wouldn’t care if anyone else did, but apparently people like it,” Ms Schneider said of the account, which has more than 25,000 followers. Ms Hays said celebrities including Kelly Osbourne, Molly Shannon, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Amy Schumer have sent her DMs.

If the goal was to get free stuff, it seemed to work. The next day, Ms. Schneider went to Nordstrom in San Francisco to shop for clothes with a stylist courtesy of the store. She was on the hunt for something to wear to the GLAAD Media Awards in April, where she would be honored.

After settling on a lot that included a navy Alex Evenings dress, a blue and beige floral print dress from Maggy London, Marc Fisher pumps with a chunky heel and jewellery, Ms Schneider’s tab topped 2 $000 given to him.

But when the cashier executed her credit card, her bank flagged the transaction as potentially fraudulent. The irony of having a credit card problem after winning over a million dollars did not escape Ms. Schneider, but there was little time to dwell on the subject.

She was already late for a free coloring appointment across town.

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