Stowell, the 41-year-old contestant from Austin, Texas, who died on Dec. 5, is being honored in a touching video that showcases her positive spirit. The science-content developer, who had Stage IV colon cancer, achieved a six-episode winning streak on Jeopardy!, but sadly died before it aired.
Stowell battled a blood infection and a high-grade fever throughout the tapings in August and September, but still managed to win $105,803. She said she hoped to donate most of her winnings to cancer research.
On Thursday, Jeopardy! shared a video tribute in which Stowell tearfully reflects on what it meant to fulfill her lifelong dream of appearing on the show.
“I started watching Jeopardy! in the 80s and when I was in 9th grade I tried out for the teen tournament and I didn’t pass the written exam,” she says.
Stowell passed the online audition test earlier this year, and then traveled to Oklahoma City for an in-person interview.
“That was really nerve-wracking,” she recalls in the video. “I was very nervous even though it was a practice game.”
After passing through that process, Stowell wrote a letter to a Jeopardy! producer explaining that she only had six months to live.
“Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in-person interview, and the taping date? 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,” Cindy shared in a letter obtained by Austin’s KXAN News.
Stowell began taping her appearances three weeks after qualifying.
“I had no idea what it would be like,” she says. “Experiencing this and seeing what it’s really like in person has been phenomenal and it’s been fun.”
Through tears, Stowell explains that she is dying of cancer.
“I wanted to donate a lot of the money to cancer research partly because – this is hard and maybe I should pause – but I’m dying of cancer and I’d really like the money that I win to be used to help others,” she says. “This seems like a good opportunity.”
After this heartbreaking disclosure, Stowell says calls her time on the show, during which her boyfriend and family flew in from around the country to support her, “an unreal experience.”
“I am completely blown away with the people who showed up,” she says. “I’m overwhelmed by the amount of support that they’ve shown me and it’s been an unreal experience.”
Stowell’s family asks that donations be made to the Cancer Research Institute in Stowell’s name.