Amy Schneider, ‘Jeopardy’! champion, on being a transgender woman: ‘It’s just what I am’

‘Jeopardy!’ champ Amy Schneider discusses the future of the show, how she knows so many facts, and making transgender history.

Video transcript

KEN JENNINGS: Amy Schneider with $31,600, you are our new "Jeopardy!" champion.

AMY SCHNEIDER: Anything that can be done to show trans people as normal people I think is a great thing. If this had happened, like, a year into my transition or something, it would have been a lot more challenging.

You know, I was definitely aware of it going on the show. I'm aware that, you know, being a trans person in the spotlight could be an interesting thing.

It's not exactly on my mind because, you know, it's just what I am. On Twitter and Facebook, there's stuff I have to ignore. There definitely are people that are saying things to me that I want to respond to, and I know that that's not going to go anywhere good.

The flip side of that is, like, so much of what I get on Twitter and Facebook is so positive and good. It's well worth it.

Eighth grade, I was voted most likely to be on "Jeopardy!" one day. I can't remember not watching it, you know, because my parents watched it every night as long as I can remember, which means they must have started pretty much right when Alex Trebek's run had started. It was always sort of in my mind that it might be something I did at some point.

Coming from a family that, you know, was well-educated, valued education and knowledge in general, that just gave me a great head start. I've been trying to get on the show for 10-plus years. It was really disappointing. I'd been so excited that I was going to get a chance to see him before he passed.

Things happen for a reason. I think that I, you know, kind of know more than I did a year ago, and Ken Jennings has been really great, better than I expected him to be.

Alex himself always said that he wasn't the star of the show, that the contestants were. And actually I think the writers-- I think that when you stop and think about how difficult it must be to be writing trivia questions every day at, like, just the right level of difficulty, I think it's really impressive.

One of the main things that I would recommend to anyone who's trying to study for "Jeopardy!" is just there's that has every "Jeopardy!" clue ever from the show's history in it and just sort of looking at what are the sorts of things that you tend to get wrong?

For me, one thing tended to be, you know, opera or classical music, and that's where I actually got a tip from this book "Prisoner of Trebekistan" by a guy who was a champion. What he said to do was go to the library and get, like, opera for dummies, classical music for dummies because that'll give you all the, like, high-level stuff. That's most of what they're going to ask on "Jeopardy!"

I'm not going to be, like, Tom Hanks-level famous or anything. I enjoy that there's people that are just happy to see me and, like, I've brightened someone's day just by going grocery shopping. If this ever stops becoming nice, I don't have a way to stop it, but I think that I'm not too concerned. I think that I'll be fine.

KEN JENNINGS: You're a 10-day "Jeopardy!" champion. Congratulations.

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