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Amy Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy!” winning streak has come to an end. Schneider, who identifies as a transgender woman and was born a biological male, is being celebrated as the winningest woman in the history of the show.
Schneider opened up about the show experience during an interview with The New York Times. During the conversation, the “Jeopardy!” whiz explained the decision to use a regular voice during gameplay rather than a more feminine version.
“I’ve got a more feminine voice when I really want to, and I’d sort of been planning on using that voice on TV,” Schneider told NYT. However, the contestant ultimately decided that decision could negatively affect the game, so the idea was scrapped.
“Trans women watching can see me with my voice as it is and see me being OK with it,” Schneider continued.
The publication reported that Schneider had recently signed with talent agency CAA and is interested in exploring voice acting.
The 43-year-old Oakland software engineer amassed $1,382,800 in total winnings during the “Jeopardy!” winning streak. Buzzfeed News reported that Schneider will remain employed for now, but maybe not forever.
“I’m looking forward to having some time to sit down and process everything,” Schneider said. “One thing that is nice is I don’t have to keep anything a secret anymore. That was a real struggle these last three months.”
“Beyond that, it means that I’ve got some freedom now,” the contestant continued. “I’m staying at my current job for the moment — just in case my employer is watching — but I’m looking at what other opportunities are out there. I’m going to see what develops. If I do decide I want to seek a career change of any kind, I’ve got a little cushion to take that chance.”
Buzzfeed also reported that Schneider was “proud” of furthering the cause of trans representation on television.
“It’s a really good feeling,” the “Jeopardy!” winner said. “I’ve benefited from the work and sacrifice of so many trans people over the years. I’d always had a slight twinge of guilt, I guess, that I wasn’t really doing anything for future generations. And now, I can really say without really trying to I’ve made a little bit of a difference, and that really makes me happy.”
The Oakland resident was known for wearing pearls and staying incredibly calm under pressure during gameplay. Schneider also allegedly practiced for the buzzer by clicking pens, which many other “Jeopardy!” hopefuls find amazing. Some practice for months using special replica buzzers and don’t achieve anywhere near the results that Schneider did.
The contestant also expressed surprise over not getting more backlash about being trans. Schneider sent out one sarcastic tweet addressing biological sex in December but said the reception has been mostly positive.
“I was really expecting a lot of negativity, rejection, and hostility. Ever since I came out, I’ve been in this kind of defensive state of mind and always assuming that’s what I’m going to be met with wherever I go,” Schneider said.
“And I was so happily surprised by how not true that was — how little hostility I actually got. Having met with that, it just means that wherever else I go in life I can be a little more confident I can be accepted there.”