Last week, the sad news broke that 41-year-old Cindy Stowell of Austin, Texas, died after a battle with cancer — just a week before her episode ‘Jeopardy!’ was set to air. Appearing on the iconic quiz show had been a lifelong dream of Stowell’s, a dream she realized but never had the chance to actually witness on television due to her untimely death. When Stowell competed on the show, she was deep in the throes of Stage IV cancer, “fighting a high-grade fever (which turned out to be a blood infection) and was on painkillers while taping,” her longtime boyfriend Jason Hess said. Only Alex Trebek and a handful of “Jeopardy!” staffers were aware of her condition at the time of taping. “Something within her rallied to the cause,” Hess recalled, “and she was strong enough for that day.”
On Tuesday night, Stowell’s episode aired — and she won. Stowell outpaced her two opponents and finished with a total of $22,801. She went into ‘Final Jeopardy,’ the show’s decisive bonus round, with 12,200, a narrow lead over her closest opponent. But she bet big on the Final Jeopardy category: City Names. The answer was, “Cuba’s second-most populous city and a South American capital share this name that refers to St. James.” Stowell replied with the correct question: “What is Santiago?” and wound up adding $10,601 to her total.
Stowell was a true champion both on the game show set — and in her heart. Doctors had given her a grim prognosis and she knew after passing the initial contestant test that her remaining time was short. She reached out to a ‘Jeopardy! Producer and said, “I just found out that I don’t have too much longer to live. The doctor’s best guess is about six 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.” Watch the video below to see the moment that Cindy learned from Trebek that she’d won the game.
Read the full story at CNN.