Jeopardy! Master Matt Amodio on the Wrong Answer That Still Haunts Him

Jeopardy! ultra-champion Matt Amodio chats about trivia, celebrity, and his showing on Jeopardy! Masters.

JEOPARDY! MASTERS - "Games 1 & 2" - The “Jeopardy! Masters” tournament returns as contestants Amy Schneider, James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, Victoria Groce and Yogesh Raut face off to win the grand prize of $500,000 and the chance to be crowned “Jeopardy! Masters” champion.
Photo: Eric McCandless | Disney

By virtually any metric, Matt Amodio is one of the most successful quiz show contestants of all time.

The Medina, Ohio native, who now works as a quantitative researcher in New York, burst onto the trivia scene in 2021 with a commanding performance on American game show institution Jeopardy! Amodio would go on to dot his name all over the hallowed Jeopardy! record books, winning 38 consecutive games (third most all time), taking in $1,518,601 in prize-winnings (also third most all time), and finishing third in the inaugural Jeopardy! Masters tournament in 2023.

Now Amodio has returned for the second installment of Jeopardy! Masters alongside familiar competitors James Holzhauer, Amy Schneider, and Mattea Roach; and fresh faces Victoria Groce and Yogesh Raut. This time around, however, the ultra-champ hasn’t done too well. After five episodes (consisting of 10 games), Amodio finds himself in last place – hammering home just how challenging Jeopardy! has become and how much fresh talent has been infused into the game.

The 2024 Jeopardy! Masters standings through May 13, as compiled on

Thankfully, the quiz star still has some time to get things back on track. The first round of cuts for Jeopardy! Masters won’t occur until the conclusion of episode 6 on Wednesday, May 15. As Jeopardy! fans wait to see how things shake out, Amodio was kind enough to speak with Den of Geek about his original time on the show, his (extremely relative) trivia struggles of late, and returning to beautiful Cleveland, Ohio to view the solar eclipse.

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Den of Geek: Not to get things started on a sour or antagonistic note, but you’re kind of getting your ass kicked out there on Jeopardy! Masters. Why has this been such a particularly challenging tournament?

Matt Amodio: [Laughs] Well, the way the current Jeopardy! hierarchy of play has been structured creates an interesting phenomenon. I can have tremendous success for 38 games and then every time I play Jeopardy! again, not have success. That’s kind of by design, because the winners just keep floating to the top of the pyramid. The pyramid gets harder and harder and players get more skilled and more skilled. I knew going into this that it was going to be a tough one. Victoria and Yogesh are clearly very impressive players and adding them to an already impressive group is just going to make it harder.

Victoria and Yogesh’s performances have indeed been impressive. I don’t know what their shooting schedule was like but we just saw them on this year’s “Tournament of Champions.” Do you think they built up a Steph Curry-esque hot streak there that they were able to maintain on Masters?

I don’t know exactly what it is. They certainly played more recently than me and the returning Masters [Schneider, Holzhauer, and Roach]. But there was still a break. And I’m reluctant to attribute any of [their success] to just being a hot streak. Skills like how many buzzer attempts they make and things like that are available in the “box scores” now. That all shows that their knowledge base is incredibly wide.

You’ve gotten to meet and play against Amy, Mattea, and James before but this is your first time going up against Victoria and Yogesh. What’s it’s been like getting to know them and compete against them?

I’ve definitely developed friendships with some of the people on the show that I’ve seen now 34 times. So it’s cool to have that built. But it’s also cool being in this weird group of “elite trivia people” because I have kind of an instant connection with anybody else in that group. I can walk into a room with Victoria and Yogesh and, never having met them in my life, still already have so much in common. Until you asked that question, it didn’t even really occur to me that I’ve encountered James or Amy so much more than [Victoria and Yogesh] because I already feel friendship and familiarity with all

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Do you think Jeopardy! is entering into a golden era? Maybe it’s just anecdotal, but I feel like so many more people have been interested in it of late.

I know TV itself is at a turning point. There’s a lot of disruption and change to the mechanisms of delivery and the layout of the industry. So Jeopardy! really needed to make some decisions and I think that the current pyramid of getting players who have been successful in the past, bringing them back, and letting them duke it out on a on a recurring basis, I think that that adds so much to the game.

The fact that it’s able to happen in primetime means that it doesn’t necessarily disrupt the syndicated schedule either. So it is a golden era in the sense that people who wanted more and better Jeopardy! have it. And the people who still just loving seeing three new contestants who aren’t necessarily the most, like “flash carded-up” trivia people in the world, they get that too. Whatever you want as a Jeopardy! fan, there’s more of it.

I think you might be selling yourself a little short in that answer. Because as we’ve seen with Caitlin Clark in basketball [Ed Note: Sorry for two basketball references in one Jeopardy! Q&A. Won’t happen again!] people just like witnessing greatness in any medium. Starting with James, then you, Amy, and Mattea, there’s been a nice streak of some really talented contestants of late.

I can certainly say that’s true for me. Because watching James’ original run was a bit of an epiphany moment for me. I realized “oh, this is a game where you can put in a lot more strategy and get a lot more out of it.” That kind of puzzle has always excited me. Watching him definitely lit a fire under me. So yeah, I can anecdotally agree with that for sure.

During your first match on Jeopardy! Masters this year, your anecdote was about coming back to Cleveland to see the eclipse. What was that like? Did you go to the Guardians’ home opener?

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I come back home quite frequently. My parents still live in Medina and my brother lives in Ohio. So we get together a lot and go to as many Guardians games as we can. I’m a huge baseball nerd. [During the eclipse] the park was full and buzzing with a different level of enthusiasm than usual for an April game early in the season. It was just such a special moment. The game happened after the eclipse by design, but they had the park open so that people could experience it communally. It was just really cool.

Do you have a wrong answer from your trivia career that haunts you?

The one that really haunts me is from one of the games late in my original run. I was having one of my best games yet and the Daily Doubles happened to shake out where they were found later on, which increases the maximum score that you can achieve. I remember seeing my Moby Dick … my white whale, in sight that I might be able break into the Top 10 in the highest scoring games in Jeopardy! history, which is currently a chart that has James Holzhauer’s face 10 times.

I got a Daily Double and it ended up being a computer science question. I am a PhD in computer science at the moment so I felt like everything is aligned. They asked for a famous British computer scientist from the 20th century, with some other little clues in there. Perhaps I knew a little bit too much because I gave a slightly more obscure answer, which ended up being wrong. Alan Turing was the was the correct answer. Of course, I still won the game but I saw my opportunity of finally breaking James’ stranglehold on the Top 10 melt before my eyes in an embarrassingly wheelhouse category for me.

Jeopardy! has turned you into something of a public figure. What’s that been like for you?

I know different people can take different approaches. My approach has been to try to minimize that effect as much as possible. I don’t really do anything differently. I don’t seek out attention. Occasionally people, like yourself, want to talk to me, and I’m always happy to say yes to that. But I don’t make a goal out of it.

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There’s, of course, a fleetingness to celebrity. Everybody’s celebrity is fleeting, and perhaps a Jeopardy! contestant’s is moreso than others. I have noticed that the amount I get recognized in public has gone down since its peak after my original run. That might bother somebody else but it really doesn’t bother me at all. When a friendly stranger comes to say “hi” to me, I still get a kick out of it, instead of saying like “Oh, no, the last time this happened four weeks ago!”

That seems like a comfortable level of celebrity. Outside of Jeopardy!, how are things going? How’s New York? How’s the new job? Anything you want to talk about?

Things are great! I am busy and I think that plays into the first question of how I’m doing on the show. I think the more time you have to devote to Jeopardy!, the better you can to do. Moving to a new city and starting a new full-time job means there’s not quite as much time to devote to Jeopardy! as I would like. But it’s good. I I have a full, well-rounded life and I am treasuring the part that Jeopardy! plays in it.

The remaining episodes of Jeopardy! Masters premiere on ABC at 8 p.m. ET on May 15, May 17, May 20, and May 22.