With 38 wins to his name, Jeopardy! champion Matt Amodio never thought he would get this far into the competition, let alone set a record. But before he became a household name, the 30-year-old Ohio native first had to pass several tests to get in front of the cameras — and it wasn’t all based on his intelligence.
Speaking with Cleveland 19 News on October 4, the computer science PhD student from New Haven, Connecticut revealed insight on how he earned a spot on the beloved game show. According to Matt, the process is “multi-stage” and Jeopardy! staff paid close attention to what he could offer besides his encyclopedia-filled brain.
“There are auditions that you have to do and at each point, you not only have to answer questions right, but there are people evaluating you for personality,” he told the outlet. “I’m a very introverted person and I was more worried about seeming interesting enough to get on the show than I was about the actual questions. But lo and behold, here I am.”
When asked about his strategy of answering all clues with “what’s,” regardless if it’s a thing or a person, Matt echoed his reasoning of consistency and having “one less thing go wrong.” But the Jeopardy! star also opened up about another more personal reason regarding his preference.
“I’ve never performed. I’ve never been in theater or sung or played music in front of people, so I was really worried that I would have stage fright — forget my name, forget what the capital of Ohio is if they asked me,” he told the news show. “And I thought if I forget to form it in a question, then they’re going to mark me wrong and I should just try to make that an instinct and do it without even thinking and that helped.”
While Matt has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings, he didn’t hold back about potentially claiming the title of most consecutive games won, like he did with James Holzhauer.
“The goal is Ken Jennings plus $1 and one day,” he said. “I treasure Ken. He is the greatest of all time but records are meant to be broken.”
But will he do it?! We’ll just have to keep tuning in to find out.
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