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Current Jeopardy! star Amy Schneider is knocking on the door of tying former champ Matt Amodio‘s record for most consecutive games after bumping James Holzhauer to fourth place in the category. Her continued winning streak is clearly a sign of her impressive intellect, though the Oakland resident also revealed her knack for one specific skill has helped her rack up victories.

Alex Trebek on the set of Jeopardy!
Alex Trebek on the set of the ‘Jeopardy!’ | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Amy Schneider gets quizzed about her smarts

Schneider has already compiled a list of impressive Jeopardy! records and is poised to join Matt Amodio in second place for most consecutive wins. The engineering manager now holds the title for the first woman to break into million-dollar territory, and she’s Jeopardy!‘s most successful trans contestant. Now that she’s a famous face, Schneider is frequently asked, “How are you so smart?”

“It’s a question I’ve been asked all my life, along with its many variations, and having a successful run on Jeopardy! has, unsurprisingly, prompted it to be asked of me more often, by friends, strangers, and Safeway cashiers,” Schneider wrote in a December 2021 article for Defector. “And yet, I’ve never found a satisfying answer.”

The Jeopardy! star points to factors “outside of my control,” such as being able to effectively retain information. Still, Schneider finds intelligence to be somewhat relative.

“My other general approach is to dispute the premise of the question, that I’m even ‘so smart’ to begin with,” she explained. “After all, being able to do things like name all the monarchs from the House of Stuart is a pretty narrow definition of ‘smart,’ don’t you think?”

‘Jeopardy!’ champ is good at the notorious buzzer

While Schneider clearly possesses brainiac status, she insists that there are plenty of topics that leave her stumped.

“There are many types of intelligence, and the one I have is far from the most useful,” Schneider wrote. “My financial and time management skills are abysmal, and even in the realm of ‘pure intelligence,’ I have plenty of shortcomings; I’m terrible at chess, and higher math is just as bewildering to me as to most people.”

But one facet of Jeopardy! that Schneider has been able to master is breakneck buzzer skills, frequently ringing in with answers before her competitors.

“Buzzer timing is also critical,” she shared. “The fact that I have, for whatever reason, been good at that aspect has been a vital part of my success.”


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Amy Schneider calls knowledge a ‘shield and a sword’

Schneider emphasized that having a range of wisdom rather than honing in on one or two specialties is an asset in conquering the Jeopardy! quiz board.

“Being good at Jeopardy! is more than just being knowledgeable,” she remarked. “Like sports, it is an attempt to measure a natural talent via an unnatural competition. So you don’t just need to ‘know stuff,’ you need to know the right stuff. … Jeopardy! rewards breadth of knowledge, not depth.”

The Jeopardy! champ places a priority on lifelong learning and discernment to reach your potential.

“Knowledge is a shield and a sword, a joy and a duty,” Schneider wrote. “While you may never remember things quite as easily as I do, or win a bunch of games on Jeopardy!, if you have the desire, not just to know but to understand, then you will grow more and more powerful every day, and nobody will be able to stop you.”