“Folks saved asking me about it throughout my run due to Matt,” Schneider stated in an interview, referring to Matt Amodio, who received 38 video games mere weeks earlier than Schneider’s episodes began airing. “On the time, my feeling was it’s probably not something. It’s only a statistical fluke.”
“However since then, it’s saved occurring,” she continued. “And in order that’s beginning to really feel like a much less satisfying clarification to me.”
The query has baffled everybody, together with viewers, “Jeopardy!” employees and the contestants themselves. Certain, over the previous 20 years for the reason that quiz present eliminated the five-game win restrict, you see the occasional week-long streak, with the anomaly like Ken Jennings (74) or James Holzhauer (32) or Julia Collins (20). However the 2021-2022 season has gone a bit haywire, and it reveals no signal of slowing down.
Amy Schneider has made ‘Jeopardy!’ historical past — and helped the present discover calm after chaos
To this point, 9 contestants have received greater than 5 video games, changing into “super-champions” and making them eligible for a spot within the Event of Champions this fall. (This consists of Megan Wachspress, whose current streak included a number of shut brushes with defeat in Closing Jeopardy. She misplaced Wednesday evening after successful six video games and $60,603. She was the third consecutive winner since Might of greater than 5 video games.) Though it’s not the very best variety of super-champions in a 12 months simply but — the 2014-2015 season had 10 — no different season has seen the astonishing variety of wins per streak, together with Amodio; Schneider; Mattea Roach with 23; Ryan Lengthy with 16; and Jonathan Fisher with 11. Solely 14 contestants complete have received greater than 10 video games within the present’s 38-year historical past.
“This 12 months, you’ve acquired 40, 23, 16, 11 video games, … and then you definitely’ve acquired me down there with six,” stated Eric Ahasic, who competed in June and was thrilled along with his $160,601 in winnings, regardless of feeling like “the center of the pack” lately. “That’s nice in a traditional season, nevertheless it’s sort of citing the rear this 12 months.”
So what’s happening? Schneider thinks one chance is that contestants are taking part in with pandemic-related restrictions that have been enacted in 2020, that means there’s no studio viewers — and though some may feed off the vitality of the gang, there’s additionally much less stress with out “crucial folks on this planet to me sitting within the viewers watching.”
“After I strive to consider issues that may have made it simpler for me, it’s positively potential,” Schneider stated.
Government producer Michael Davies, who was unavailable to remark, seems simply as perplexed as everybody else. “I don’t have a easy reply,” he advised the Related Press earlier this 12 months, and added that it’s not hurting scores, as a result of the present has seen a rise of about 400,000 viewers this season. In a New York Occasions story, he stated he and his staffers have questioned “whether or not that is some sort of ‘new regular’ or whether or not we’ve simply had an uncommon windfall of good ‘Jeopardy!’ gamers.”
Each the Occasions and the Ringer printed tales in early January throughout Schneider’s run in regards to the successful streaks, suggesting that contestants now have extra assets to arrange, because of Reddit threads, YouTube clips of outdated episodes, and in-depth web sites resembling J! Archive and the Jeopardy! Fan. Others are taking cues from Holzhauer, the skilled sports activities gambler who received greater than $2 million in 2019, and taking part in extra aggressively. Claire McNear of the Ringer, who wrote a ebook on the historical past of the present, reported that on-line software numbers spiked throughout the pandemic, bolstered by auditions shifting from in-person to Zoom, and subsequently making them extra accessible, main the best way for “many extra buzzer hopefuls — and large, lovely brains — from which to decide on.”
‘Jeopardy!’ champ Matt Amodio’s epic successful streak ends at 38 video games and $1.5 million
One widespread take on-line is that the clues have change into simpler, though folks concerned with the present instantly shoot that down. Davies advised the Occasions that he thinks the present is definitely harder now, due to the “massively diversified” vary of classes. Schneider added that she has been taking part in alongside for years and has by no means gotten the impression that it’s much less difficult. Ahasic agreed, saying that he watched a few of Jennings’s video games from 2004, and it appeared as if the clues have been extra simple again then.
“Now it looks as if the writers are somewhat bit wordier, and there are hints and nudges and clues inside the clue,” Ahasic stated. “You sort of should parse by means of it. It’s somewhat bit extra work.”
Then there are wilder, eyeroll-inducing theories, one in all which speculates that producers secretly present contestants questions upfront or that classes are aligned to assist sure gamers. Lengthy, whose episodes aired in Might and June, recalled a viewer sending him some kind of “loopy statistical evaluation” on Twitter that implied a conspiracy was afoot.
“I felt it was goofy, and on the time once I noticed it, I additionally felt somewhat insulted,” Lengthy stated, “as a result of lots of people work very, very arduous on the present, they usually’re very, very cautious.”
Accusations like that, he stated, devalue “Jeopardy!” staffers and contestants. Lengthy noticed some criticizing the truth that one in all his Closing Jeopardy clues was in regards to the athlete who launched Omaha Productions (Lengthy was the one one who appropriately guessed Peyton Manning), as if it was unfair that he was well-versed in sports activities when the class, which is doled out randomly, occurred to come back up. “It’s like, oh, swiftly we’re the advantages of a conspiracy as an alternative of truly being actually good and having these sort of expertise,” he stated.
However Lengthy stated he thinks that every one the suspicion in regards to the successful streaks comes from a spot of followers nonetheless being rattled by the modifications to the long-running present following Alex Trebek’s dying and the revolving door of visitor hosts — a job that now alternates between Mayim Bialik and Jennings.
“ ‘Jeopardy!’ has been an establishment in all people’s lives. … And now what they see is that this ‘cheapening’ of this factor they love, so folks discover methods to lash out,” Lengthy stated. “So I get why these feedback come up, and I get the locations they’re coming from, however in some unspecified time in the future, you’ve acquired to let it go.”
“At its core,” he added, “It’s nonetheless ‘Jeopardy!’ ”