From software engineer Ken Jennings to professional sports gambler James Holzhauer, Jeopardy! has seen a slew of ordinary Joes prove their extraordinary trivia skills for countless weeks, capturing the hearts of viewers across America.
Though Ken is the highest-earning game show contestant in history, earning himself over $2.5 million on Jeopardy! over the course of his 74 straight wins, Brad Rutter is famously the highest-earning Jeopardy! contestant ever, with over $4.9 million in winnings.
With his bright smile and refreshingly humble attitude, it's hard not to like the record-breaking Matt Amodio. But who is he, and how does he know so much? Here's his story.
Who is Matt Amodio?
With his positive attitude and encyclopedia brain, the charmingly dorky Matt Amodio has won himself a whopping $1,267,801 in Jeopardy! earnings thus far. The 30-year-old history nerd, who's also a computer science Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, has a somewhat odd approach to answering questions, as he's been responding "what is" before each answer since his first appearance in July, even when the answer is a person's name.
Some fans thought it was annoying and improper, one even calling it "disturbing."
In response to James Holzhauer's congratulatory tweet to Matt, Twitter user @Babyboyjay751 tweeted "James, at least you and Ken @KenJennings knew proper English, this answering what to everything is so disturbing... doesn't matter what the rules say... (A person is not a what, they are a who..)." Yikes.
While we think comments such as this one are simply attention-seeking at best, Matt couldn't hold his tongue.
"All who’s, why’s, when’s, and where’s are also what’s, but not all what’s are who’s, why’s, when’s, and where’s," Matt tweeted in response. It was a Daily Double dose of sarcasm. He's been asked about his "what is" habit an awful lot. "I guess I just want to say that I hope nobody's offended by it." he told EW back in July, clearly uncomfortable.
"I do hear some people say that it's disrespectful to the game, and I would counter that if there was a Jeopardy! fan club ranking, I think I would have a strong case to be number one Jeopardy! fan. I live and breathe the show, I love every aspect of it, and so I'm definitely not doing it out of any disrespect or undermining of the show,” he concluded. Well, the legendary game show, which premiered in 1984, seemingly has no issue with it, as it declared Matt's answering technique "totally acceptable."
Is Matt Amodio cheating?
What? Get out of here! Of course he's not cheating, this isn't a case of Charles and Diana Ingram. Matt is just the King of All Nerds, as he literally reads Wikipedia pages in his spare time. "I have to credit my love of reading,” Matt said regarding his success on Jeopardy!. “I spend most nights starting somewhere on Wikipedia. I read everything there, but also get 10 or 15 links from that article to other things that I’m interested in," he told the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science.
"That cascades to more and more, and before I know it, the night’s over and I still have thousands of things I still want to read. And it just starts over the next day,” he continued. No scamming here.
People's questions about how Matt could possibly know so much are justified, as it seems impossible to store that much information in one wrinkly brain. He also admitted that his winning streak is due to a fair amount of luck, but we think that's where the humbleness comes in. "This was beyond my wildest dreams going in," Matt told Deadline.
"I've been a Jeopardy watcher my whole life, even before I could really make out the words, because my parents would have it on," he told EW. "To see me on the stage is just surreal. It's a wonderful, wonderful feeling." Well, we'll just have to continue watching and see how far Matt goes.
A new episode of Jeapordy! airs tonight, Oct. 5, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. EST on ABC.