‘Jeopardy!’ contestant dies before show airs

A “Jeopardy!” contestant who achieved her dream of appearing on the show has passed away just a week before the episode is due to air, her partner said. Cindy Stowell, a science content developer from Austin, Texas, died early Monday morning after a long battle with cancer, according to her longtime partner Jason Hess. Stowell was the winning contestant, with $22,800.

According to Jeopardy!, Stowell’s goal was to donate her prize money to cancer-related organizations.

“Competing on Jeopardy! was a lifelong dream for Cindy, and we’re glad she was able to do so. Sadly, Cindy died on December 5. Our condolences and best wishes to her family and friends,” host Alex Trebek said in a statement on the show’s website. Cindy Stowell was 41.

According to the show, Stowell passed the online test in early 2016 and received an invitation to an in-person audition in Oklahoma City this summer.

That’s when she reached out to producer Maggie Speaks with this message:

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.

The Jeopardy! producers agreed Cindy should come to the auditions, and if she qualified to compete, she would be booked for a taping right away.

She qualified. The show was taped three weeks later on August 31.

When Stowell got to the “Jeopardy!” studios, she was fighting Stage 4 cancer, and only a handful of staffers, including longtime host Alex Trebek knew she was sick. “Competing on ‘Jeopardy!’ was a lifelong dream for Cindy, and we’re glad she was able to do so.”