After becoming the second-winningest player in Jeopardy! history, Schneider lost Wednesday, ending her historic 40-game win streak with a total of $1,382,800 in winnings. Schneider, the first transgender contestant in Jeopardy! history to make the Tournament of Champions, ends her run at No. 2 in all-time wins, after Ken Jennings' 74, and No. 4 in regular season cash winnings, after Jennings' $2,520,700, James Holzhauer's $2,462,216 and Matt Amodio's $1,518,601. “The fatigue of this taping was really starting to add up,” she told The New York Times on Wednesday. “I couldn’t explain it, even to myself, but I just could feel that something was slipping a little bit, however much I tried to fight it.” Schneider was defeated by Rhone Talsma, a librarian from Chicago. Schneider recalls Jennings telling her that the person who ultimately defeated him came off as friendly and thoroughly unintimidated by him. “That was definitely true of Rhone,” Schneider said. If Talsma seemed unintimidated, he said on Wednesday, it was because he had already accepted defeat. But while Schneider went for lower value clues, Talsma decided to go for higher value clues. “I kind of felt like a puppy biting at her ankles the whole time,” Talsma said. Schneider said she felt a mix of emotions -- disappointment and relief -- when she realized her streak was over. “Playing Jeopardy! has been the most fun I’ve ever had, and I didn’t want it to end,” she said. “I knew it would sometime, but it was tough to realize that the moment was finally there.” Schneider will now compete in the Tournament of Champions. Talsma said he was in "shock" following his victory. “This is my favorite show," said Talsma. "I was so excited to be here and I just wanted to do my best. I did not expect to be facing a 40-day champion, and I was excited to maybe see someone else slay the giant. I just really didn’t think it was going to be me, so I’m thrilled.”
Rhone Talsma, who taped his victory over Amy Schneider before her first Jeopardy! episode aired, discusses his reaction to her long win streak -- and his "cool" glasses: "She was the first person in the greenroom who I saw and introduced myself to," said Talsma, who taped his first episode a week before her first episode aired on Nov. 17, in an interview with Vulture. "There was another contestant, Joanne, who played earlier in the week; she was the only person who knew Amy was the returning champion and had won so many games. Before we were even briefed, Joanne got Amy to tell me she won 38 times." Talsma said of his reaction to learning about Schneider's long streak: "It was a kaleidoscope of emotions. I couldn’t settle on one. Part of me went into this thinking that it’s such a huge accomplishment to begin with. I’m a librarian from Chicago and not in the limelight at all, and to get to do something like this is so rare and special. It was a huge privilege, and I’m a huge fan of the show, so when I found out Amy was going on this record-setting run, I was briefly crestfallen but immediately bounced back. I thought, This is really cool. I’m going to be a part of Jeopardy! history as someone who got Schneider-ed, and people will maybe remember me for my glasses. I wanted to make her sweat a little bit. That’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to let go of any attachment I had to winning or doing super well. Since Jeopardy! films five episodes a day, I watched Amy play two games before I taped my own episode. She crushed them. I mean, I think those were the two most dominant performances in her run. She destroyed them all. I was shocked by how good she was. So I was watching her and thought, She’s beatable. Random chance plays a huge role in the game. Inevitably, something will happen and she’s not going to make it. Even though I wasn’t going into my game thinking I’d beat her, I had that mindset of, Well, someone might beat her. Maybe not today, but it will happen eventually. I was paying attention to her strategy and decided when I went in that I was going to play differently than she was." As for his glasses, Talsma said: "I wish they had a cooler story, but I bought them from an Instagram ad for an online glasses company called Nihao Optical. I have a lot of accessories in this color, so I thought, Why not? I took a risk, and the second I put them on, I was like, This is the look! It’s my new signature look! A month after I got the glasses, I auditioned, and people certainly commented on them during the audition. I do feel like they got me there, on some level. It’s a nice way to stand out."
Schneider knew Talsma would be a challenge: “I had thought that Rhone was going to be tough going into it,” Schneider admitted. “I loved hanging out with him, we had great conversation before the taping, but I could tell that he was here to play and that he was going to be good. I still came very close to winning, but I did feel like maybe I was slipping a little bit. And once it was clear that he was fast on the buzzer, I knew it was going to be a battle all the way."