Woman who died before Jeopardy! episodes aired wins $105K

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Alex Trebek began Wednesday’s episode of Jeopardy! by saying, “Before she came to us, Cindy’s ambition was to come to Jeopardy and win over $100,000. She’s done that.”

Cindy Stowell’s 7-day cash winnings are $105,803. The science content developer from Austin died from colon cancer on Dec. 5, before her episodes aired.

KXAN’s Amanda Brandeis spoke to Stowell’s boyfriend of more than 20 years — and trivia partner — Jason Hess earlier this month. “Whether it was geography or movies and music, she just kind of had one of these brains that sort of absorbed everything,” said Hess. “Even if it was just the two of us we could usually hold our own against much larger teams, in no small part thanks to her.”

Jason Hess and Cindy Stowell (Jason Hess Photo)
Jason Hess and Cindy Stowell (Jason Hess Photo)

Stowell set one goal before making it onto Jeopardy: donate her prize money to cancer-related organizations like the Cancer Research Institute. When she showed up to compete, only Trebek and a select group of staffers knew she was ill.

The final category in Stowell’s last episode Wednesday was “Little Countries,” along with this clue: “It’s the closest nation to the mainland U.S. where cars customarily drive on the left.” While all three contestants correctly guessed, “The Bahamas,” Stowell lost to a competitor by less than $3,000.

“When Cindy Stowell taped her appearance on Jeopardy!, she had Stage 4 cancer,” Trebek said. “Competing on Jeopardy! was a lifelong dream for Cindy, and we’re glad she was able to do so. Sadly, Cindy died on Dec. 5. Our condolences and best wishes to her family and friends.”

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