Ph.D. student Matt Amodio has become a hot name for Jeopardy! viewers. The newcomer has swept the competition and is currently on a winning streak. He's working toward his doctorate in computer science at Yale University and is expected to return to the show for the Tournament of Champions. But who is Matt — and why don't some viewers like him?
Matt Amodio only auditioned for the show at the request of his parents.
Despite growing up watching Jeopardy! religiously with his parents, he said that if it weren't for their encouragement, he never would've auditioned for the show.
"I was only reluctantly trying out because I didn't think I would make it, and even if I did make it I wouldn't be very good," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I only tried out at the behest of my dad, who insisted, as any parent would, 'My son is awesome. He would do so well.' And so I said 'Fine, I'll do it for you.'"
But Matt has managed to become one of the top Jeopardy! earners to date, bringing in a whopping $310,400 in winnings so far. Before coming on the show, he said he watched Ken Jennings for pointers and listened to everything the reigning king of the program had to say on competing.
"I think that my strategy going in was watch Ken [Jennings], and try to do whatever Ken does," he said. "I would just take any notes I could from him."
Matt said he wasn't expecting to win a single game at all, but now he's won five in a row. Winning these challenges, he said, is almost addictive.
"Once I won one, I wasn't sitting on my laurels or anything. I said, 'You know, that was good. Let's do it again,'" he told EW. "I went into a full day of taping saying, 'This is just the dream. I can't believe I have the opportunity to do this.' ... Each step of the way, I was just kind of amazed that it kept going."
Matt Amodio sparked criticism online for how he answered his questions on 'Jeopardy!'
Probably one of the most controversial things about Matt's tenure on the show is how he answers every prompt. Even when the subject of his answer is a person or a period of time, Matt's replies have always started with, "What is ..." — a decision that has upset some viewers.
In reply to the outrage from some viewers, Matt simply said that he meant no disrespect to fans.
"I hope nobody's offended by it," he said. "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."
The show's official Twitter account clarified for viewers that despite their dislike of how he answers the questions, there is nothing wrong with his answers and they are totally within the rules of the game.