Alex Trebek paid tribute to "Jeopardy!" contestant Cindy Stowell, whose episodes aired for eight consecutive days from December 13 through December 21, 2016. However, Stowell died from Stage 4 colon cancer on December 5 before her winning episodes aired. Cindy won seven consecutive days before she was dethroned on the eighth day.

Trebek's tribute

Alex Trebek said nothing about the contestant's health until after her winning streak was over. He then explained to viewers that the 41-year-old science developer from Austin, Texas died between the tapings of the episodes last August and September and the actual broadcasts in December.

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He added that it had been a longtime dream of Cindy to be a contestant on the ABC show. He extended condolences from the "Jeopardy!" staff to her family and friends.

Cindy Stowell's journey

Cindy’s journey began last August when she passed the online "Jeopardy!" test. When she attended the audition in Oklahoma City and qualified, she told officials that her doctor had given her only six months to live. Only a few staff members and Alex Trebek knew about her battle with cancer.

Alex Trebek pays tribute to Jeopardy! contestant Who Died of Cancer - Photo: Blasting News Library - vanityfair.com
Alex Trebek pays tribute to Jeopardy! contestant Who Died of Cancer - Photo: Blasting News Library - vanityfair.com

On her first day, Cindy beat the seven-game reigning champion, Tim Aten by winning $22,801. She went on to tape and win three more games that day. She returned home for a short break before taping the next round of episodes on September 13. She won two more games which brought her total winnings for her eight games to $103, 801. She had instructed "Jeopardy!" to donate her winnings for cancer research. Her boyfriend, Jason Hess, said the entire time Cindy was filming and answering all those questions, she was taking painkillers to fight a high-grade fever and blood infection.

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Even though Cindy didn't get to see all of the episodes, "Jeopardy!" sent her advance copies while she was in the hospital during her last days. She and her family got to watch the first three episodes together before she died. Executive producer Harry Friedman acknowledged that the show gave Cindy the chance to fulfill her dream. Officials reported that this is the first time in the history of "Jeopardy!" that someone has died between the taping and the airing of their appearance on the show.

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