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‘Jeopardy!’ contestant battling Stage 4 cancer dies days before episode airs

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek with game show contestant Cindy Stowell.
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek with game show contestant Cindy Stowell. Jeopardy Productions

A long-time fan and a contestant on Jeopardy! who was battling Stage 4 cancer during a taping of the show died Monday, just days before her episode was set to air on television.

Cindy Stowell, a science content developer from Austin, Texas wanted to fulfill “a lifelong dream” of appearing on the popular quiz show.

Earlier this year, Stowell passed the online contestant test and moved onto the next round – an in-person audition in Oklahoma City, Okla., according to a statement from the game show.

However, before appearing in person, Stowell received some horrible news, forcing to her to inquire about the timing of the audition and possible taping.

“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,” Stowell wrote to Jeopardy! contestant producer Maggie Speak. “The doctor’s best guess is about 6 months. If there is the chance that I’d be able to still tape episodes of Jeopardy! if I were selected, I’d like to do that and donate any winnings to … charities involved in cancer research.

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“If it is unlikely that the turnaround time would be that quick, then I’d like to give up my try out spot to someone else,” Stowell wrote.

According to the game show, Speak told Stowell to attend the in-person audition and if she qualified, the game show would be booked for a taping as soon as possible.

On Aug. 31, Stowell fulfilled her dream.

“When Cindy Stowell taped her appearance on Jeopardy!, she had Stage 4 cancer. Competing on Jeopardy! was a lifelong dream for Cindy, and we’re glad she was able to do so,” Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek said in a statement. “Sadly, Cindy died on December 5. Our condolences and best wishes to her family and friends.”

Jeopardy! said in the statement that only a select group of the game show staff, including Trebek, knew Stowell was ill. Her opponents, however, did not.

As the New York Post points out, the news of Stowell’s death and the airing of her episode was announced on social media by her long-time boyfriend, Jason Hess.

“In the early morning hours cancer took the best friend, partner and pub trivia teammate a guy could ask for. Love you always @nanocindy,” Hess tweeted on Monday.

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“She was such a badass. She’s going to be on Jeopardy next Tues (12/13). Y’all should watch,” Hess wrote.

Hess and Stowell’s family issued a statement through the game show, saying she played “the game she loved.”

“Cindy came on Jeopardy! to play the game she loved and in doing so, she was able to make a contribution to cancer research in the hopes that no one else would have to go through what she did,” her family said in the statement.

Stowell’s appearance will air on Tuesday.