One of this week’s Jeopardy contestants is, sadly, unable to reap the rewards of her winnings. Current Jeopardy contestant Cindy Stowell died on December 5th, after a long battle with cancer. As of Friday December 16th, the 41 year-old has won her fourth consecutive episode of the show.
Amazingly, according to a statement from the popular games show’s producers, Stowell managed to keep her Stage 4 colon cancer secret from the rest of the contestants during the tapings. It was only a few chosen staffers, including host Alex Trebek that knew about her illness.
The Austin, Texas resident had first auditioned for the show in Oklahoma City, after passing her initial online test. When meeting with one of the show’s producers, she made the fateful decision to let the Jeopardy staffer in on her terminal diagnosis.
Contestant Producer Maggie Speak said, in a statement from the show, that Stowell initially broached the subject via a written message right before her scheduled in-person audition. Speak remembers the aspiring contestant asking:
“Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in person interview, and the taping date? I ask because I just found out that I don’t have too much longer to live. The doctor’s best guess is about 6 months. If there is the chance that I’d be able to still tape episodes of Jeopardy! if I were selected, I’d like to do that and donate any winnings to… charities involved in cancer research. If it is unlikely that the turnaround time would be that quick, then I’d like to give up my try out spot to someone else.”
When Stowell, a science content developer, passed her in-person audition, Jeopardy’s producers booked her appearance for her as quickly as they could, giving her an August 31st taping date.
In a public statement, her family, including longtime boyfriend Jason Hess said: “Cindy came on ‘Jeopardy!’ to play the game she loved, and in doing so, she was able to make a contribution to cancer research in the hopes that no one else would have to go through what she did.”
Playing Jeopardy for a Cause
Since Stowell knew that there was no chance of survival during the time of the tapings, she vowed to give all of her winnings to cancer research charities. According to KXAN in Austin, her contributions will be donated to Cancer Research Institute.
At the time of her fourth appearance, she had won a total of $62,001.