Alex Trebek paid tribute to Jeopardy! contestant Cindy Stowell, who died from cancer following a six-game win streak.
“For the past six Jeopardy! programs, you folks have been getting to know the talented champion, Cindy Stowell. Appearing on the show was the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition for that lady,” Trebek said during Wednesday’s episode.
“What you did not know is that when we taped these programs with her a few weeks ago, she was suffering from Stage IV cancer and sadly, on Dec. 5, Cindy Stowell passed away. So from all of us here at Jeopardy!, our sincere condolences to her family and her friends.”
Stowell, a science content developer from Austin, Texas, passed away earlier this month before her Jeopardy! episodes aired. Stowell’s seventh, and final, episode aired on Wednesday, December 21, marking the end of her six-win streak.
Cindy’s Jeopardy! journey began earlier this year when she took, and passed, the online test. She was later called in for an interview where she revealed she was suffering from stage four colon cancer and had only months left to live. During her run on the game show, only a select few staff members and Alex Trebek knew about her cancer battle, and it wasn’t revealed until right before her first episode aired.
— Good King WencesLiz (@whatthefritz) December 14, 2016
“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,” Stowell asked contestant producer Maggie Speak prior to her in-person audition. “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.”
Stowell attended the audition in Oklahoma City, qualified, and started filming just three weeks later. According to Jeopardy!‘s website, Cindy won her first game, beating seven-game champ Tim Aten and winning $22,801. She then went on to win the remaining three games that day. Cindy returned to her home in Austin for a short break before taping the next session on September 13. She then won two more games, making her total winnings $103,801. According to her boyfriend Jason Hess, the entire time Cindy was filming, she was taking painkillers to fight a high-grade fever and blood infection.
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Although Cindy passed away before getting to see her episodes on television, she didn’t miss them all. While she was in the hospital, Jeopardy! sent her advance copies of her first three episodes, “so she and her family were able to watch her realize a lifelong dream of competing on the show. Jeopardy! also expedited Cindy’s prize money, and she received and acknowledged it before she passed.”
“Cindy came on the show with a mission. We gave her the opportunity to fulfill that mission and she made the most of it,” said Jeopardy! executive producer Harry Friedman.
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Watch Alex Trebek’s tribute to contestant Cindy Stowell in the video below.
Cindy’s parents, Greg and Carole Stowell, have requested that any donations be made to the Cancer Research Institute in Cindy’s name.
[Featured Image by Kris Connor/Getty Images]