October 1987, plus the ToC in 1988 and 1 show of Super Jeopardy!
$53,507 as a five-time winner; around $13,000 in the ToC; and $5,000 in SJ!
At the time I was a 5-time winner I think I was the highest-earning female but I'm positive that's long been broken.
As a result of being on Jeopardy! two fun things happened: My folks made me promise that I wouldn't tell them if I got the call to be on because they would be too nervous waiting to see how I did. That phone call to them, after I'd won the first 4 shows and $48,000, was something I'll never forget. For the first time in my life I completely knocked them speechless! "Mom, I wasn't really on a business trip to Las Vegas, I actually was winning on Jeopardy!...!"
Second, while home sick one day reading a bunch of mysteries, I discovered that one of my appearances was immortalized in the Elmore Leonard thriller Killshot. In the book, there's a scene in which the hero and his wife are watching Jeopardy! over dinner. They comment on how smart the female contestant was, and I realized that the clues they quoted were ones I had been given! I sent Leonard a fan letter identifying myself as the Jeopardy! contestant, and received a lovely author's note telling me how much he enjoyed watching me play. I'm a big fan so that meant a lot!
How has Jeopardy! changed your life?
Being on Jeopardy! definitely gave me the financial freedom to travel and even move to California, a dream I long had. It also impressed my future father-in-law (a huge fan of the show) so much that he told me he would make sure I joined his family just so he'd have someone to watch with. That was 13 years ago and he kept his word!
Did you do anything crazy with your winnings?
I didn't do anything really crazy with my winnings, but I made a lot of friends by handing out the coupons for free Hillshire Farms kielbasa, Niagara spray starch and Pompeiian olive oil that I got as parting gifts!
"After five wins in 1987, she fulfilled her dream of moving cross-country. A corporate researcher, today she's living in Berkeley, California..."
2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions Round 1 player: $5,000.
1990 Super Jeopardy! quarterfinalist: $5,000.
1988 Tournament of Champions 2nd runner-up: $13,000.
Season 4 5-time champion: $53,507.
Sandra appeared on Now You See It in 1975, winning a Gibson appliance and some Leonard silver. She lost the the championship round to the game's returning champion, and didn't make it to the solo (bonus) round.