Matt Amodio GRD ’23 now second place all-time in “Jeopardy!” wins
Amodio, a fifth-year computer science Ph.D. candidate, passed James Holzhauer and now sits behind only Ken Jennings in consecutive “Jeopardy!” wins.
Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions
After winning his 33rd consecutive game on the quiz show “Jeopardy!” on Friday, Yale fifth-year computer science doctoral candidate Matt Amodio GRD ’23 moved into second place all-time for consecutive wins in the show’s history.
Since “Jeopardy!” lifted the five-game limit for contestants in 2003, only Ken Jennings’ 2004 streak of 74 consecutive wins is higher than Amodio’s current run. Amodio’s streak is still active, and as of Wednesday’s game — in which he won $16,600 — he now sits at 36 consecutive wins.
“It feels incredible,” Amodio wrote about his run in an email to the News. “I don’t feel like I’m good enough to be considered [among] the greats, but I try to imagine what it would be like for me to read my stats as if they were somebody else’s. I know I would be impressed by someone doing what I’ve been doing, so I try to let myself feel proud of that.”
Since the 38th season of “Jeopardy!” began on Sept. 13, Amodio has surpassed many of the show’s milestones. He crossed $1,000,000 in total earnings on Sept. 24 after his 28th win and gave his 1,000th correct response on Sept. 29.
With the recent buzz around Amodio’s accomplishments, the talk show “Good Morning America” invited him to discuss his “Jeopardy!” win streak on Oct. 4.
“I have a few more interviews to do now than I used to,” Amodio told the News. “But other than squeezing some more “Jeopardy!” into my already busy workdays, things have stayed relatively normal for me.”
On Oct. 1, Amodio’s win streak surpassed the incumbent second-place holder, James Holzhauer. But Holzhauer still maintains a lead over Amodio in all-time winnings.
As Amodio approached 32 wins, Holzhauer posted a meme on Twitter showing Amodio’s supposed underwhelming earnings compared to himself after they had both played 23 games.
“Must be nice having time to throw shade on Twitter,” Amodio playfully fired back. “Us Jeopardy champions with 0 career losses have actual work to do.”
Amodio told the News that he personally enjoys engaging with Holzhauer’s sense of humor and public persona. He described their banter as a kind of “trash-talking” he would do with friends and family. Amodio said he is pleased that despite never meeting Holzhauer, he can be on the same wavelength and have a connection with someone he sees as an idol.
On Monday, Amodio collected a personal best of $83,000, as he notched his 34th victory and 30th runaway — a term used by longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek for games in which the result is decided before the “Final Jeopardy” round. The Medina, Ohio native explained to the News that his hot streaks are directly associated with his timing on the buzzer. According to his personal stat keeping, Amodio has a “very small variance” in the number of questions he knows on a per-game basis, but how “in-sync” he is with the buzzer changes “drastically.”
“There is one Jeopardy staff member who presses a button to open up the buzzer, so being good on the timing means you and that person are in-sync,” Amodio explained. “To get out-of-sync could mean you are doing something different, or it could just mean your target is doing something different! When the buzzer is going well I don’t really understand why, and when the buzzer isn’t going well I don’t really know why.”
A longstanding “Jeopardy!” tradition has been for each contestant to share a brief anecdote from their life with the host after the first commercial break. Amodio’s 36 games mean he has also shared 36 life stories with a national audience. Amodio told the News that he is “way past the point of having interesting anecdotes to tell,” but that he likes putting a humanizing touch on his stories.
“I’m just a normal guy who lives a normal life,” Amodio said. “Not that much interesting happens to me.”
Amodio has won $1,417,401 on the show so far.