My Ultimate Goal Is To Win $1 More Than Ken Jennings

Some of my earliest reminiscences of Jeopardy! are seeing the stage again the way in which they used to have it within the 90s, with all the colours. I used to be at all times within the room when my dad and mom have been watching the present, so it is principally a visible reminiscence; simply lights, colours, buzzers and beeps.

I’m the youngest of 4 boys and I grew up in Medina, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland. We had a reasonably regular life; I went by means of public faculty and I used to be an enormous baseball fan. I at all times did nicely at school, I simply appreciated studying. That’s at all times been there.

The first strong reminiscences I’ve of Jeopardy! are of Ken Jennings’ run. I used to be rooting for him like a sports activities fan. I knew his stats and the way he in comparison with the document books. I bear in mind it so nicely. But you by no means actually image the way it should look in particular person.

So I bear in mind getting on the Jeopardy! stage for the primary time myself and simply trying round. It seems a bit completely different in particular person than on TV. On TV they do not pan as much as see the place all of the lights are hanging within the studio, and, after all, you do not see backstage. I bear in mind I used to see somebody look to the left of the display screen and surprise what they have been taking a look at. Now I do know. That’s the place the choose’s desk is. Getting to see the entire panorama in a approach that you just by no means can at dwelling is a superb feeling. You step onto the stage, get to your podium and also you hear the fantastic Johnny Gilbert announce your identify. It’s a tremendous feeling of: That’s me! I received right here.

I had seen well-known individuals on stage earlier than, however this was the closest brush to fame I’d ever had, and I did not know what to anticipate. It seems, well-known individuals are simply individuals as nicely. It has been actually nice to have regular conversations with hosts like Robin Roberts. She and I talked about sports activities as a result of she’s an enormous sports activities fan, and he or she talked about how the expertise of visitor internet hosting was enjoyable but additionally tense for her, which is a unique facet of issues I’d by no means considered. It was very human. Before that, I had simply been nervous about myself and answering questions.

I additionally received to fulfill LeVar Burton, who’s a childhood icon for me. It’s been superior assembly all of the hosts. I feel Joe Buck had probably the most enjoyable on stage, he was simply loving each minute, and when the host resides it up, that is contagious!

But I do not suppose it was disruptive having six completely different hosts. I’m probably not centered on the host when I’m taking part in. I’m simply staring on the query, attempting to recollect, so it did not actually influence me in any respect. There are additionally 20 individuals on set working for Jeopardy!, all doing their jobs and making you’re feeling snug, the truth that one in all them is altering is not so enormous. I did have an opportunity to fulfill Mike Richards, he was the chief producer on the present earlier than he was the host and he was at all times extraordinarily good to me. He handled me very nicely. I’m only a contestant, I’m not within the backstage space, however nonetheless, he at all times made me really feel snug. There was quite a lot of turmoil occurring, however he and everybody on the workers did an amazing job of preserving the contestants feeling as regular as doable.

It’s been good to see my statistics accumulate, however I really feel I’m at all times going to know lower than James Holzhauer and Ken Jennings. Getting my identify into the document books as having the second longest profitable streak, 33 video games received so far, is one thing to carry on to, however even having my identify thought-about in the identical working as them would not sound correct to me.

I haven’t got a complete lot of self-worth, so I do not actually consider myself as overly good after which I preserve profitable! Every time I miss a query, the primary response in my head is: “I bet Ken knew that!”

I got here into Jeopardy! actually analyzing it from a likelihood perspective; what’s the proper transfer to maximise your winnings? My area is math and statistics so I take into consideration likelihood loads. I additionally took cues from James Holzhauer. But the distinction is, once I examine, it is at all times hypothetical, it is simply phrases on a web page. James is used to placing plenty of actual cash on the road.

So I went in attempting to supress all of the feelings that say: “Don’t do that! That’s too risky!!!” I feel you may see it on my face on the present, once I look a bit pained at wagering $10,000. I can hear my dad and mom at the back of my head saying: “It’s too much money. That’s a car you just wagered on one question!” I take into account myself a cautious particular person, however I do know one of the simplest ways to win is to not at all times be cautious. So I strive to not fear about how I really feel, and simply do it. You have to consider it as monopoly cash, I do not even take into account the {dollars} as a result of it will be too actual to view it as precise cash.

But it’s a good feeling to have received greater than $1.2million. I received the annual lease for my residence in my first recreation, and that was an optimistic greatest case situation I had in thoughts entering into: with the ability to pay a complete 12 months in lease. Then I received to the purpose the place I believed I might take into account profitable $100,000. Then $250,000 occurred, then $500,000 after which $1,000,000. I suppose the final word aim is to win one greenback greater than Ken and to have the document for the present!

Matt Amodio has won 33 Jeopardy! games
Matt Amodio now has the second longest profitable streak in Jeopardy! historical past. On October 1, he received his thirty third recreation.
Courtesy of Jeopardy!

But I do not consider myself as wealthy. It simply seems like I’ve a web beneath the tightrope strolling that’s life on the whole. I suppose finally it would begin to sink in, however as of now, I nonetheless really feel like a PhD scholar with a small stipend. I’ve at all times tried to reside on as little as doable and pocket away what I might for a wet day. Now, my wet day fund is overflowing. I’m instantly doing a crash course in investing! This is the type of monetary safety I’ve by no means had earlier than. But I’ve zero plans to spend the cash. The air con in my automobile has been damaged for six or 7 years and I’m lastly going to make use of this cash to repair it. That’s in all probability it.

All of this exterior validation is sweet nevertheless it’s actually not a lot of a driver for me. One good factor about being Jeopardy! well-known is that it is not fairly the identical as being Taylor Swift well-known. I went to a baseball recreation and the individuals subsequent to me requested if I used to be Matt Amodio, after which the usher came visiting. It’s enjoyable getting acknowledged for a superb factor. I do not thoughts in any respect and folks have been very good. I think about if somebody finds me annoying, I might need them to maintain that to themselves! But to have somebody come over and say they seem to be a large fan and congratulate me, may be very good.

It’s straightforward to remain grounded as a result of there’s a lot randomness and luck concerned. In my first recreation I used to be only one query away from shedding. I’ve had so many shut calls the place I really feel like Neo in The Matrix, dodging the bullets in gradual movement. People have requested how I keep humble and grounded? The recreation retains you grounded.

My least favorite questions are lyrics of standard songs. There are songs I do know so nicely and have heard 100 instances, however when Mayim Bialik says a lyric out of rhythm, I get a foul feeling, as a result of I do know I’ll have a tough time naming the tune. Then all people watches the present and thinks I do not know the tune, which is a worse feeling! I do know it may be embarrassing. I simply missed one for “We Are The World.” How might somebody declare to pay attention to tradition and never know “We Are The World?!” That was not so good. But alternatively, I received nearly all of the songs right in a Beatles lyrics class. My mother was proud.

Matt Amodio has won 33 Jeopardy! games
Matt Amodio with Jeopardy! visitor host Mayim Bialik.
Courtesy of Jeopardy!

So competing on Jeopardy! is tense for me. I need to do nicely and I’m continually anxious that I’m not. But I attempt to internalise that and categorical consolation and ease, as a result of that makes it simpler for everybody else round. To hear that Mayim felt I came across as easy-going makes me really feel so good. I do know her scenario was not a simple one. She knew the eye was going to be on her with the internet hosting scenario, and he or she needed to bounce in there unexpectedly. She does a very good job. I’ve been amazed by her.

The greatest takeaway for me is what number of good individuals I’ve run into. There have been greater than 60 different contestants that I’ve been within the lucky place to fulfill. I’ve seen individuals come into this expertise with a perspective the place they’re intimidated or afraid of me, so I inform them actually: “I’m afraid too! You might think that by game 30 the nerves are gone, but they’re not!” I’ve seen the significance of being sincere with individuals.

I’ve additionally met individuals backstage who play large roles within the present and do not essentially get quite a lot of acknowledgement, so I’ve achieved all the pieces I can to inform them what an amazing job they’re doing, whether or not that’s calming me down, or calling me “champ” after my first win.

As an introverted particular person, my inclination is to not say something, so one of many methods I’ve grown is to attempt to inform individuals actually how I’m feeling. When individuals make me really feel good, I inform them that. I hope they go dwelling and understand how vital they’re. It’s sincere and it is the type of factor I would not have achieved earlier than, so I thank Jeopardy! for drawing that out of me.

I’m attempting to journey the surf for so long as I can. I do know that my run will finish sooner or later. I’ll turn out to be a reminiscence versus a tangible, present factor, and I’ll return to a daily, regular, life. I’m having fun with issues being completely different in the intervening time, however finally, I’ll go and be the Matt I used to be at all times going to be anyway.

Matt Amodio is PhD scholar at Yale University and present Jeopardy! contestant. On October 1, Amodio grew to become the contestant with the second longest profitable streak within the present’s historical past after profitable his thirty third recreation. You can comply with him on Twitter @AmodioMatt.

All views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal.

As informed to Jenny Haward.

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