There’s no question that Amy Schneider is a great “Jeopardy!” champion, but whether she’s the show’s greatest female contestant has touched off a heated debate on sex, gender and media.
Last week, the transgender trivia whiz passed Julia Collins’ 2014 streak of 20 consecutive wins, the most by a female player, prompting media outlets to crown Ms. Schneider “the show’s winningest woman,” as The Washington Post put it.
“On Wednesday, Ms. Schneider, 42, an engineering manager from Oakland, Calif., became the first woman in the show’s history to achieve 21 consecutive wins,” said the New York Times.
Yahoo! Entertainment credited Ms. Schneider with “the longest winning streak by any female player.”
Days earlier, NBC News declared her the show’s “top female earner” after she passed Larissa Kelly’s total all-time winnings of $655,930 with her Dec. 24 victory. Ms. Schneider also has exceeded Ms. Collins’ regular-season earnings mark, according to the show’s website.
“Amy Schneider continues streak as highest-earning and longest-winning woman in ‘Jeopardy!’ history,” tweeted “CBS Sunday Morning.”
What rankles critics is not the idea that Ms. Schneider has an unfair biological advantage — a complaint often leveled against transgender athletes in women’s sports — but that she has usurped an honor intended for a female-born contestant.
As conservative pundit Ben Shapiro quipped on Twitter, “Many of the most accomplished women are now men.”
Not the Bee, the satirical Babylon Bee’s news site, said in a Wednesday post that “it is now an undeniable fact that, if a woman wants to claim the title of highest-earning female competitor on this game show, she’s … going to have to beat a man for the title.”
“You kinda gotta laugh about that, at least before you cry about it,” said Not the Bee.
Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, needled The Post for its “winningest woman” headline.
“Wow! What a feat for women and not biological men! I love how you speak truth and not non-stop leftist propaganda, Washington Post!” tweeted Ms. Hemingway.
SEE ALSO: Flap ensues as trans ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Amy Schneider hailed as ‘top female earner’
Also crediting Ms. Schneider with topping the women’s field was the LGBTQ group GLAAD, which congratulated her after her 20th consecutive victory for “tying the record for most wins by a woman.
The widely touted description touched off a surge of social-media retorts along the lines of “she‘s a man,” prompting a riposte Friday from the champ herself.
“I’d like to thank all the people who have taken the time, during this busy holiday season, to reach out and explain to me that, actually, I’m a man. Every single one of you is the first person ever to make that very clever point, which had never once before crossed my mind,” tweeted Ms. Schneider.
She wore a sweater as a tribute to Ms. Collins on the day that she tied her 20-game record.
“Obviously being such a successful woman on the show is meaningful to me, but I also just like, she played very straightforward, and just being smart, just being fast on that buzzer, and I like that about her as well,” said Ms. Schneider in a show clip.
After Ms. Kelly congratulated her for eclipsing her record as “the woman with the highest overall earnings,” Ms. Schneider responded: “Thanks so much, I’m honored to be in your company, and I look forward to some day watching the woman who beats us both!”
Her legion of fans has weighed in by cheering her success and blasting the “haters.”
Blue-check screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick tweeted: “Sending you much love and support! Just remember, people are jealous of winners. Especially women.”
“Laugh all the way to the bank, Amy. Your fellow women of Jeopardy have your back,” tweeted former contestant Christy Karras.
Said ABC7 reporter Tom Roussey: “Amy I’m so sorry you have to deal with that, but please know that us true fans of the show are absolutely loving watching you win every night and support you 100%!”
On the other side were those who said that Ms. Collins should still be recognized as the female contestant with the most wins.
“Winningest trans player, yes. Amy is brilliant and an amazing player and I have no problem with how she chooses to live her life, but that statement takes away from the accomplishments of actual women like Julia Collins,” said the @i_heart_cricket account.
Others asked why media outlets deemed it relevant to draw attention to the sex of the contestants.
“Schneider’s intellectual prowess is impressive but Julia Collins holds the longest winning streak of female Jeopardy contestants,” said the @sophistibitch account. “Actually, a contestant’s sex is irrelevant in games of the intellect so why is the Times making a big deal of touting Schneider as the woman with the longest winning streak?”
The “Jeopardy!” website does not list players by gender on its contestant Hall of Fame, but rather by earnings and wins.
Ms. Schneider ranked fourth as of Sunday for consecutive games won at 23, trailing James Holzhauer at 32, Matt Amodio at 38, and Ken Jennings at 74. She also ranks fourth for highest winnings and fifth for all-time winnings.