The engineering manager from Oakland, California, became the first openly transgender contestant to qualify for a spot in the next tournament of top winners last week after five wins. Now, she's doubled her winning streak, and is opening up about the value of on-screen representation.
"I am so incredibly grateful," she said in an interview Tuesday with San Francisco station KGO-TV. "Hopefully I can send a positive message to the nerdy trans girl who wants to be on the show too."
Tuesday's win brought Schneider to a total of $380,200 in earnings, landing her in eighthplace in the show's all-time regular season winnings.
"I'm not going to pretend I didn't think I could do good, but this is just so much better than I thought I would do," she said.
Of the "Jeopardy!" contestant greats, Schneider said she'd like to beat James Holzhauer, who won 32 games in a row in 2019, nabbed a total of $2,962,216 in prize money and holds the show record for single-game winnings with $131,127.
Growing up in Ohio with parents who were "Jeopardy!" fans – and a mom who was a college professor – Schneider was instilled with a love for learning and the trivia show from a young age.
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Schneider was also inspired by Natasha Muse, a trans comedian, whom she first discovered after moving to San Francisco.
“Growing up in the Midwest in a conservative family, I had gotten kind of a distorted idea of what it meant to be trans, and so seeing her being smart and funny and cool and just a normal person with a normal life and kids and everything like that just showed me that it was something that I could possibly be, and that really made a difference for me,” she said.
Schneider is not the first openly trans person to compete on the long-running game show. She previously noted a "handful" came before her, including Kate Freeman, who last year became the first out trans champion.
"My thanks to all of them for blazing the trail!" Schneider tweeted last week.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Jeopardy!' champion Amy Schneider makes history, talks representation