For a game show that's been on the air for decades, Jeopardy! has been in the news quite a bit in recent months. Between hosting controversies and a number of noteworthy contestants, the show has proven that it can remain culturally relevant even as many people move away from broadcast TV. Now, Matt Amodio is earning more headlines after his amazing run as the second-winningest contestant in the show's history came to an end.
Matt Amodio finished his run on 'Jeopardy!'
Matt, a PhD candidate at Yale, finished his 38-game winning streak on Oct. 11, 2021, when he wound up in last place after Final Jeopardy, having answered the question wrong while both of his opponents answered correctly. Going into Final Jeopardy, Matt was in last place, $4,000 behind the leader and $3,800 behind the second-place contestant.
Matt bet less than half of his sum during the final round, while winner Jonathan Fisher wound up doubling his earnings, and second-place finisher Jessica Stephens finished just behind him. Even if Matt had bet it all and gotten the question right, he still would have finished behind both of his opponents. This was the question that stumped him: "Nazi Germany annexed this nation and divided it into regions of the Alps and the Danube; the Allies later divided it into four sectors."
The correct answer was Austria, but Matt guessed Poland. After his loss, Matt congratulated his fellow competitors for the exciting game they played. "Congrats to today's two brilliant challengers for making it an exciting game of #Jeopardy today! Let's celebrate a match well played by Jonathan and Jessica!" he wrote.
Jonathan, who won the round, admitted he was surprised at his own win.
“I'm still processing it,” he said. "Matt is so good that it was just kind of an honor to be there with him."
Did Matt Amodio lose on purpose?
Although Matt clearly wanted to emphasize his competitors' performances, many fans became convinced that he had actually thrown the game so that he could return to his PhD studies.
"Not saying he threw that game, but it seemed like Matt Amodio threw that game," one person wrote on Twitter. "Absolutely unbelievable that he wouldn't know Austria there."
"There is no way Matt Amodio did not know that Final Jeopardy question not to mention some of the others he missed. I think he threw that game but why would he do that?" another person wrote.
Some fans have theorized that, given his status as the second-highest earner in the show's history, Matt decided to bow out in part out of respect for Ken Jennings, the show's current record holder.
Some also pointed out that, although Matt had proven himself a great player, he would have had to continue playing much longer in order to break either one of Ken's records, and he might not have been prepared to do that.
But on Oct. 14, Matt stated emphatically that he was beaten fair and square.
"I really like winning Jeopardy games," he said in a statement to Newsweek. "I always want to do that more."
"Everybody's so smart and so competent that this could happen any game. And this time it did," the artificial intelligence researcher continued.
"I always wanted to be a Jeopardy! champion and I accomplished that," he added. "l know going into every bar trivia game that I play that I'm going to come in with a little intimidation factor."