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Jeopardy is not a show that many of us usually associate with tragedy. Contestants may lose in every single episode, but nobody leaves the show without a cash prize of some sort. Unfortunately, a very real tragedy struck one recent contestant shortly after she filmed her rounds of trivia, and the episodes didn't even air until after she passed away. Now that viewers at home have gotten to see Cindy Stowell in action as a contestant, longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek took the time to pay a touching tribute to her, saying this:
Appearing on the show was the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition for that lady. What you did not know is that when we taped these programs with her a few weeks ago, she was suffering from Stage IV cancer, and sadly, on December 5, Cindy Stowell passed away. So from all of us here at Jeopardy, our sincere condolences to her family and her friends.
Alex Trebek's reveal that appearing on Jeopardy was a lifelong dream for Cindy Stowell only makes her episodes more touching. As it turns out, the Jeopardy fan did far more than just appear on the show. She was a six-game champion whose winnings amounted to $105,803. Stowell made the decision that she would donate the money to cancer research organizations.
Her death came before she was able to watch any of her competition as they aired on television, but KXAN reports that the Jeopardy team was able to send advanced copies of her first three episodes to her while she was in the hospital prior to her passing. Additionally, Jeopardy took steps to award her prize money as soon as possible so she could accept it while she lived.
All in all, the Jeopardy team went to touching lengths to make sure that Cindy Stowell was able to fulfill her dream. Although she passed the exam to qualify for the show in 2016, there was no saying whether or not she'd be selected for the series at all, let alone before she died. After telling a producer of her situation, the folks behind the scenes worked to make sure that she would get to compete as soon as possible. She only had to wait three weeks before joining Alex Trebek on stage and taping her first episode. Take a look at Trebek's full tribute in her honor:
Cindy Stowell was not well when she appeared on camera, battling a fever that was later diagnosed as a blood infection. Still, only Alex Trebek and a handful of others at Jeopardy knew that she was suffering from cancer. All that everybody else knew was that she had a keen mind for trivia and had what it takes to be a Jeopardy champion. We can be sure that her winnings have gone to good causes in the field of cancer research.