This is Cindy Stowell. She was a candidate for a doctorate in chemical engineering and a pub trivia enthusiast. Months before she died, she was a contestant on Jeopardy, which was one of her lifelong dreams.
Stowell went on a limb and wrote to show producer Maggie Speak, explaining her dire circumstances:
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 producers told her to attend an audition, and if she qualified, she'd go on the earliest possible taping — Aug. 31. Stowell passed the audition and made it to the tape date.
Sadly, Stowell never got to see her episode air on TV. She died on Dec. 5, just eight days before the air date.
That means that Stowell, the show's first posthumous contestant, didn't get to watch herself compete — and win! — on the game show. Stowell won a hefty $22,001, unseated a seven-day champion, and will return to defend her win.
People on Twitter were both amazed and saddened by Stowell's performance, which was all the more impressive considering she was on painkillers for a high fever and a blood infection while she played.
“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,” her parents and her longtime boyfriend Jason Hess said in a statement.
Stowell donated all of her winnings to the Cancer Research Institute prior to her death.