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If you’ve seen Amy Schneider triumph for 40 games of “Jeopardy!” earlier this year, it’s hard to imagine there’s a question she can’t answer. But we really surprise her: what in the world is going on with all the “Jeopardy!” winning streak this season?

“People kept asking me about it during my run because of Matt,” Schneider said in an interview, referring to Matt Amodio, who won 38 games just weeks before the airing. Schneider episodes. “At the time, I felt like it wasn’t really anything – it was just a statistical fluke.”

“But since then, it continues,” she continued. “And so that’s starting to seem like a less satisfying explanation to me.”

The question baffled everyone from viewers to “Jeopardy!” staff to the candidates themselves. Of course, in the last two decades since the quiz removed the five-game win limit, you sometimes see a week-long streak, with the anomaly like Ken Jennings (74) or James Holzhauer (32 ) or Julia Collins (20). But the 2021-22 season is a little out of whack and shows no signs of slowing down.

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So far, nine competitors have won more than five matches, becoming “super-champions” and making them eligible for a place in the Tournament of Champions this fall. (That includes Megan Wachspress, whose recent streak included several close shots with a loss in Final Jeopardy. She lost Wednesday night after winning six games and earning $60,603. She was the third straight winner since May by more than five games.) While still not the most super champions in a year – the 2014-15 season had 10 – no other season has seen the astonishing number of streak wins, including Amodio; Schneider; Mattea Roach with 23; Ryan Long with 16; and Jonathan Fisher with 11. Only 14 total contestants have won more than 10 matches in the show’s 38-year history.

“This year you have 40, 23, 16, 11 games…and then you have me there with six,” said Eric Ahasic, who competed in June and was thrilled with his $160,601 in earnings, even on whether he felt like “middle of the pack” these days. “It’s fine in a normal season, but it’s kind of the reverse this year.”

So what’s going on? Schneider thinks one possibility is that the contestants are playing with pandemic-related restrictions that were enacted in 2020, which means there’s no studio audience – and although some may feed off of crowd energy, there’s also less pressure without “the most important people in the world of mine sitting in the audience watching.

“When I try to think of things that could have made it easier for me, it’s definitely possible,” Schneider said.

Executive producer Michael Davies, who was unavailable for comment, seems just as puzzled as everyone else. “I don’t have a simple answer,” he told The Associated Press earlier this year, and added that it wasn’t hurting the ratings because the show had seen an increase in ratings. approximately 400,000 viewers this season. In a New York Times article, he said he and his collaborators wondered “if this is some kind of ‘new normal’ or if we just had an unusual bonanza of brilliant ‘Jeopardy’. ! players.”

The Times and the Ringer both published stories in early January during Schneider’s run on winning streaks, suggesting the contestants now have more resources to prepare for – thanks to Reddit threads, YouTube clips from old episodes and in-depth websites like J! Archive and The Jeopardy Fan. Others take inspiration from Holzhauer, the professional sports player who made over $2 million in 2019, and play more aggressively. Ringer’s Claire McNear, who has written a book on the show’s history, reported that the number of online applications had increased during the pandemic, bolstered by auditions moving from person to Zoom, and therefore making them accessible. to more people, paving the way for “many more buzzer hopefuls — and big, beautiful brains — to choose from.”

‘Danger!’ Champion Matt Amodio’s epic winning streak ends at 38 games and $1.5 million

A popular take online is that the clues have gotten easier, though those involved with the show are immediately shooting it down. Davies told The Times that he thinks the show is actually tougher now because of the “massively diverse” lineup of categories. Schneider added that she had been playing the game for years and never felt it was less difficult. Ahasic agreed, saying he had watched some of Jennings’ games from 2004 and it seemed the clues were simpler back then.

“Now it seems the writers are a little more wordy, and there are hints and nudges and hints in the hint,” Ahasic said. “You kind of have to analyze it – it’s a bit more work.”

Then there are crazier, eye-inducing theories, one of which speculates that producers secretly show contestants’ questions ahead of time or that categories are lined up to help certain players. Long, whose episodes aired in May and June, recalled a viewer sending him some sort of “crazy statistical analysis” on Twitter that implied a conspiracy was afoot.

“I felt it was awkward, and the moment I saw it, I also felt a bit insulted,” Long said. “Because a lot of people work very, very hard on the show and they’re very, very careful.”

Such accusations, he said, devalue “Jeopardy!” staff members and candidates. Long has seen some criticize that one of his Final Jeopardy hints was about the athlete who started Omaha Productions (Long was the only one who correctly guessed Peyton Manning), as if it was unfair that he knew well the sport when the category , which is randomly distributed, happened to come. “It’s like, oh, all of a sudden, we’re enjoying a conspiracy instead of being really smart and having those kind of skills,” he said.

But Long said he thinks all suspicion about the winning streaks stems from a place where fans are still reeling from changes to the long-running show following the death of Alex Trebek and the revolving door. invited guests. a job that now alternates between Mayim Bialik and Jennings.

“Danger!’ has been an institution in everyone’s life. … And now what they’re seeing is this ‘drop’ of this thing that they love, so people are finding ways to go wild,” Long said. “So I understand why these comments are popping up and I understand where they’re coming from. But at some point, you have to let go. »

“Deep down,” he added, “it’s still ‘Jeopardy! “”