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Jeopardy! releases video of 6-time champion discussing cancer battle

Cindy Stowell died before her episodes aired
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Posted at 10:54 AM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 11:54:58-05

Jeopardy! is paying tribute to Cindy Stowell, a six-time champion who died of Stage 4 colon cancer before her episodes aired this month.

Stowell lost on her seventh appearance on the show, which aired Wednesday, and the game show released a video on Facebook where she talks about her cancer battle and what was going through her head during the winning streak.

"It was kind of just a line in the sand that I drew. I wanted to donate a lot of the money to cancer research, partly because... this is hard, I'm sorry, maybe I should just pause or something like that, but I'm dying of cancer, and I'd really like the money that I win to be used to help others, so this seems like a good opportunity," Stowell said in the video.

Stowell said she was a longtime fan of the show, but despite her success, she failed to qualify when she first tried out for the teen tournament in 9th grade.

Despite the gravity of her personal battle, Stowell appeard to have fun on the show. On her final episode, she
revealed that while on a cruise with her mother some 15 years ago, she joined a group of British teenagers in mooning the coast of Dover, France.

The 41-year-old science content developer from Austin answered the final question correctly: The closest nation to mainland US where cars drive on the left? The Bahamas.

But she didn't wager enough to pull in front of challenger Sam Scovill, whose film and television knowledge overtook her prowess in categories such as Working Women and words that rhyme with "rhymin'."

Only a select group of "Jeopardy!" staffers and host Alex Trebek knew she was ill. The show revealed news of her death on its website one week before her first appearance.

Neither Trebek nor Stowell let on about her condition throughout her run, even as her voice shrank to a whisper at times. At the end of Stowell's final episode, after the credits, Trebek appeared to offer his condolences.

"Appearing on our show was the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition for that young lady," Trebek said.

"From all of us here at 'Jeopardy!' we offer our sincerest condolences to her family and friends."

'I don't have too much longer'

Stowell passed the online test in early 2016. She knew her time was short when she was invited to audition in person this summer.

"Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in-person interview and the taping date?" she said in a message to a producer. "I ask because I just found out that I don't have too much longer to live. The doctor's best guess is about six months."

She attended the audition in Oklahoma City and qualified. True to their word, producers booked her in the soonest available taping three weeks alter on August 31.

Stowell competed on "Jeopardy!" with a single goal in mind: to donate her prize money to cancer-related organizations.

Stowell went into her final show with earnings totaling $103,803 -- topping her goal of $100,000 for cancer charity, host Alex Trebek noted at the show's start.

Her longtime partner, Jason Hess, confirmed her death on December 5.

"In the early morning hours cancer took the best friend, partner and pub trivia teammate a guy could ask for. Love you always," he said in a tweet.

For many her story became a bittersweet yet inspiring note on which to end a turbulent year.

As one person noted on Twitter, "In a horrible year like 2016, I'm so happy to see that this inspiring story will continue on. We love you cindy... Keep on winning."