Amy Schneider, the second-most winning contestant in “Jeopardy!” history, said this week that she didn’t do anything too “intense” in preparation for what turned out to be a 40-episode run last year.
Schneider’s winning streak from November 2021 until January 2022 won her $1.3 million and is only second to former champion and current “Jeopardy!” host Ken Jennings’ 74-game 2004 run.
Schneider told guest host Talia Schlanger on Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” podcast that she was rescheduled twice. She was initially told would be on the show in 2020 and ended up waiting for a year due to the coronavirus and the death of the show’s longtime host Alex Trebek in November of that year.
While waiting to be on the show she said she “was just doing kind of what I’ve always done which is basically nothing too intense, but mainly just like during my downtimes going through old games online,” looking for things she was “consistently not knowing” and patterns of questions that “might be unexpected.”
For example, she said the show asks about turn of the century authors like Edith Wharton and Henry James more often than “other people.”
Schneider said she had been in a similar position before because she had been auditioning for the show for 12 to 13 years: “The way the ‘Jeopardy!’ audition process works is that once you get to that last stage they just tell you ‘OK, you’re in the pool for the next 18 months and in that 18 months you might get a call to be like, ‘Hey, you’re on the show,’ and if you don’t, you didn’t, start over from the beginning.’”
She said aside from watching old shows, she didn’t do much specifically to prepare for “Jeopardy!”
“I’ve just always been just sort of curious and wanting to explore new things,” she said, adding she’s a big reader and would often just research things on Wikipedia while bored at her old job.
She said about half of what she reads is history, which she thinks is useful for “Jeopardy!” and “life because it kind of touches everything.”
Schneider said quitting her job as a software engineer after her “Jeopardy!” success wasn’t difficult because she hadn’t been feeling “fulfilled” in it for a while and had been thinking of leaving.
“I’d been struggling with dissatisfaction within my career for a while,” she said, explaining she’d wondered to herself: “Is this what I want to be doing with my life?”
She added, “I was thinking about doing it anyway and having a million dollars to cushion the financial blow made it a lot easier.”
The “Jeopardy!” champion said she now wants to be a writer and is working on a book. “I’ve really found that to be the most satisfying to do or to think about of all the things that have come along.”
As she heads beck to the show for the “Tournament of Champions,” she admitted that she didn’t prepare as much because her life is so much more “interesting” now (including being invited to the White House) than it was before her success.
She said she crammed over the last week but isn’t too concerned.
“Fundamentally, you know what you know. The last-minute cramming is probably not going to swing any particular game so don’t get too stressed about it,” she said, adding that it was a different “mental challenge” playing against other experienced players.
She said she is most nervous to play against Matt Roach, believing “he’s the slight favorite over me” and Matthew He, who she beat in her first game, “but quite honest was lucky to do so. He really should have gotten that ‘Final Jeopardy!’ He’ll say so. And so I know that he can beat me.”