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Jeopardy! Champ Matt Amodio Talks Working With LeVar Burton And Setting Records

Matt Amodio

After only seven games of Jeopardy!, Yale University Ph.D. student Matt Amodio has catapulted himself into the list of the game show's top ten winningest contestants of all time. He's garnered nearly $300,000 after conquering the July 30 episode. Amodio spoke to Entertainment Weekly about guest host LeVar Burton and bringing home the bacon on the quiz show.

Fans noticed Amodio's tendency to say "what is" when answering. Asked about the speech pattern, the contestant replied:

I don't necessarily want to say too much about that. I guess I just want to say that I hope nobody's offended by it. 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.

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Amodio adored working with Burton, saying:

That was amazing. He is an awesome guy. He just exudes a calmness and a coolness to him that I envy as a person. And he was incredibly gracious. He clearly wanted to do well, and I think the fact that he wants to be selected as the permanent host is incredibly obvious, because of how much care he put into it. I was honored to meet him. He's been an icon for me personally ever since I was a kid; Reading Rainbow was a staple for me. I'm not a Star Trek person, but my brother is, and he really wanted to send me with every meme quote that I could possibly get to say in front of him. I held my tongue; I'm sure he gets enough of that. But I was floored by the experience. I had high expectations going in just because of the legend he is, and he met them. I'll never forget it.

And he's not underestimating the impact of his winnings, either. Amodio admitted:

I will admit that I had some financial considerations in my immediate future — when am I going to graduate, what am I going to do immediately after — and some of the factors there were, how much is rent again? This has been a blessing in terms of liberating me from that. So on a very practical level, that's helpful.