'Jeopardy!' Champion Dies Before Taped Episodes Air On TV Jeopardy! champion Cindy Stowell recorded her episodes in August, but she died before the first episode aired.

'Jeopardy!' Champion Dies Before Taped Episodes Air On TV

'Jeopardy!' Champion Dies Before Taped Episodes Air On TV

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Jeopardy! champion Cindy Stowell recorded her episodes in August, but she died before the first episode aired.


Now a story about love, loss and...


JOHNNY GILBERT: This is "Jeopardy!"

SHAPIRO: ..."Jeopardy!"


So far, Cindy Stowell of Austin, Texas, has won "Jeopardy!" five times in a row. Her Ph.D. in chemical engineering and her wide range of outside interests from music to geography served her well.


ALEX TREBEK: The longitude meridian at 147 degrees east near Tasmania separates these two oceans actually part of one global ocean. Cindy.

CINDY STOWELL: What are the Indian and Pacific Oceans?

TREBEK: You are right.

SHAPIRO: But Stowell is not watching her winning streak on TV. She died from colon cancer earlier this month before her first episode aired.

SIEGEL: Jason Hess, her boyfriend of more than 20 years, says she had enjoyed the show since childhood.

JASON HESS: She watched it a lot as a kid at her grandparents' house. She applied at least once in high school try to - to try and be on it.

SHAPIRO: That grew into a love of pub trivia quizzes, which, Hess says, they did as a couple.

HESS: It's fun to go out and find some outlet for all this useless knowledge (laughter) that we've all accumulated over the years.

SHAPIRO: In January, after years of recording and watching episodes of "Jeopardy!", both Stowell and Hess applied to appear on the show even though Stowell had stage IV colon cancer. Several months later, she was invited to audition.

HESS: It was certainly something to look forward to.

SIEGEL: But Hess says it was a source of apprehension as well. Stowell asked "Jeopardy!'s" producers if she passed the audition, how soon they could put her on the show. I ask, she wrote, because I just found out that I don't have too much longer to live.

SHAPIRO: The audition went well, and producers booked her within three weeks. She taped her episodes in August, says Jason Hess.

HESS: It was really something that came in sort of a really low period and was absolutely something that she was really hoping that she'd be strong enough to be able to do.

SIEGEL: Even if that meant competing while fighting off a blood infection.

HESS: The morning of the taping, she got up and, you know, (laughter) I don't know where she drew the strength from, but you know, for that day, she was stronger and feeling a little bit better.

SHAPIRO: Cindy pledged all of her winnings towards cancer research.

SIEGEL: And Hess has taken a bit of comfort from her win on "Jeopardy!" and the outpouring of supportive messages from strangers in the weeks since her death.

HESS: She would have been absolutely mortified (laughter) by all the attention but, you know, happy to see kind of that what she was able to do here towards the end is going to yield a nice legacy.

SHAPIRO: As of Friday's episode, Cindy Stowell had won a total of $62,001. Her run continues on "Jeopardy!" tonight.

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