When her record-breaking 40 consecutive wins on the game show ended in January, Schneider had won an astounding $1,382,800, and became the second-longest-running player in the show's history. She returned to Alex Trebek Stage on Tuesday, for a just-for-fun exhibition game (which she lost), but on Wednesday's episode, she's back for some serious competition: the first semifinal match in this season's Tournament of Champions.
Schneider, who's also the highest-winning woman in the show's history and the first transgender contestant to qualify for the much-anticipated event, told the Daily Beast in an interview published Tuesday about how she prepared. After all, she's facing competitors who won at least four games since the tournament was held in 2020 or who won tournaments for professors, college students or people who won after having been given a second chance behind the buzzer.
"When I was watching at home, I would write down the Final Jeopardy answer instead of just yelling it at the TV like usual, just to get myself thinking that way," Schneider said. "Mainly, it was about trying to visualize that situation, visualize the clue coming up, not knowing the answer right away, just that I'm going to stay calm and trust that it’s going to come to me by the end of the time."
She explained that was intimidated to meet all of her competitors, but two stood out.
"The two at the top of the list were certainly Matt Amodio and Andrew He, because [Andrew is] who I played in my first game, and he absolutely could've won and kind of should've," Schneider said. "He would say the same thing. He’s somebody that I know, from experience, can beat me. I feel my heart rate go up a little bit, going up against him."
Schneider also was asked about having said in the past that she prefers Ken Jennings — who won the show's Greatest of All Time tournament in 2020 — at the helm. While Jennings is hosting this tournament, actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik serves as his permanent Jeopardy! co-host.
"It's not that I think she's bad," Schneider said of Bialik. "She's certainly a fine host, and I know people prefer her. I can see why. The thing about it, to me, is that Ken has that deep knowledge of Jeopardy! He has a love for it. He has an intuitive feeling for the flow of the game and can comment on it. The job of Jeopardy! host is partly host, partly play-by-play commentator on how things are going, and I think he handles that balance really well. It's not so much that Mayim isn't good as I think Ken is extra good."
On a personal note, Schneider, who married Genevieve Davis in May, said her life has certainly changed since the Jeopardy! audience met her in November 2021.
"When I'm outside of my apartment, there's a chance that I'll be recognized," she said. "I have to be ready for that, no matter what else is going on with me. The line I always see is, 'Oh, you must be tired of that!' Yeah, I'm tired of strangers coming up and telling me I'm great. Whatever. What a hard life, you know? On a day-to-day level, that's the most noticeable."
And that's not even the best part.
"The main thing is really just having the freedom to do what I want to do, having that financial cushion to quit my day job and see what else in the world I can accomplish," the former managing engineer said. "It's not something I expected to happen in my life. It's been really exciting to go out there and not have to worry about making rent ever."