Current Jeopardy! champion Matt Amodio is speaking out about fan criticism of his "off-putting" answering style. Although the PhD student from New Haven, Connecticut cemented his place as one of the top 10 highest-winning Jeopardy! champions ever with a total of $291,200 after eight games, he hasn't necessarily cemented his place as a fan-favorite. In fact, Amodio has proven to be one of the more controversial contestants on the long-running game show due to his tendency to use "What's" regardless of if the answer is a thing or a person.
Amodio's personality quirk has been put on display throughout his eight-game winning streak. Amodio has used the "what is" placeholder even when answers have been a person's name, such as Anna Faris, Jim Parsons, or John Cleese. Rather than saying "who's," Amodio answered the clues with "what's Faris," "what's Parsons," and "what's Cleese," for example. The style starkly stood out to viewers and rubbed them the wrong way, though Amodio told Entertainment Weekly that he does not mean to offend anyone.
"I guess I just want to say that I hope nobody's offended by it," he told the outlet. "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."
Regardless of whether or not fans enjoy his personality quirk, Amodio has proven to be a fierce Jeopardy! competitor. Throughout his eight games on the show, he has waked up a massive $291,200 in winnings, not only quickly landing him the leading spot in the Tournament of Champions tracker but solidfying his return next season to compete in the Tournament of Champions, something Amodio said he is looking forward to "with a combination of anticipation and dread." Addressing his gameplay, Amodio sais his "strategy going in was watch Ken [Jennings], and try to do whatever Ken does." Amodio said ahead of competition on the game show, along with brushing up on knowledge, he turned to Jennings' TED talks, podcasts, and other tidbits of information he has dropped and "would just take any notes I could from him. And then also, James [Holzhauer] brought in a lot of probability-based analysis in terms of which clue selection to do. I just remembered how they did it, and I'm hoping that I'm imitating it as best as I can." Amodio added that his time on Jeopardy! has been a "blessing" and "the idea of just saying 'Jeopardy champion' — once I won once, they call you a Jeopardy champion, and that moniker stays with me forever."