Cindy Stowell wasn’t your average “Jeopardy!” champion.
The science content developer from Austin, Texas, who had Stage 4 colon cancer (but told only a few people) when she recorded episodes of the show with host Alex Trebek in August and September, died at 41 on Dec. 5. It was only a week before her taped episodes began airing on TV.
Her run concluded on Wednesday’s show, ending a six-game winning streak that put her among the year’s top performers.
Before dying, she pledged to donate her more than $123,000 in winnings to the Cancer Research Institute.
The first contender in the show’s history to die before their episode premiered, she’s remembered fondly by many, including longtime boyfriend (and fellow “Jeopardy!” superfan and trivia buff) Jason Hess, who told the New York Times, “She really saw it as a personal challenge to test herself in this forum that she watched and loved.”
Andy Saunders, who runs the “Jeopardy!” fan site, said, “This is easily the most compelling five-game champion in the history of the show.”
Ken Jennings, the show’s most famous alum, tweeted: “Cindy qualified for a Tournament of Champions she wouldn’t live to see. In 2016 ‘bittersweet”’ is the best we can do.”
When she was playing the game (on painkillers and fighting a high fever), the other contestants didn’t know she had cancer. One of them, Julia Kite, shared on social media, “It was a privilege to compete against someone so brilliant.”
ALAN THICKE UPDATE
Alan Thicke died of a “ruptured aorta” and a “standard type A aortic dissection,” according to his death certificate, Entertainment Tonight reported Wednesday.
The news comes four days after the beloved Canadian actor was remembered at a star-studded memorial at his home in Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara.
Kris Jenner, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Maher, Kevin Costner and Bob Saget and the entire cast of “Growing Pains” were among the celebrities in attendance.
His wife, Tanya Callau, issued a statement saying, “It is with gut wrenching sadness and unbelievable grief that I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the outpouring of love and support during this unimaginable time” and called Thicke “my beloved husband, soul mate and the patriarch of our family.”
Thicke died on Dec. 13, after he was playing hockey with his 19-year-old son Carter at Pickwick Gardens, an ice rink in Burbank.
The rink’s vice president Darin Mathewson, who was the one who called 911, said that after Thicke was placed on a gurney, he gave bystanders a thumbs up, and said “I’m doing good guys.”
Singer Meghan Trainor is 23 …Singer Jordin Sparks is 27. … Oakland Raider Menelik Watson is 28. … Actor Ralph Fiennes is 54. … Guitarist Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick is 68. … TV anchor Diane Sawyer is 71. … Actor Hector Elizondo is 80.
— Staff, wire reports