Reigning “Jeopardy!” champion Mattea Roach represents a new generation of quiz show star players.
On Friday, the 23-year-old Canadian won 19 games and raised $469,184 in prize money, placing her among the top 10 contenders for regular season win streaks and earnings in “Jeopardy!” the story.
Roach, who enters his fifth week of competition on Monday, is joined by outstanding veteran players including Ken Jennings, who currently hosts the show, and this season’s championsand Matt Amodio.
“The fact that I’m now one of the greatest players of all time isn’t fully understood yet. It doesn’t really seem real,” said Roach, the first Gen Zer to be dubbed a “super champion” by the show for achieving a double-digit winning streak. (Generation Z generally refers to people born between 1997 and 2012.)
A tutor for aspiring law students, and perhaps herself, she plays with flippant confidence. Roach is relaxed enough to think out loud about her approach, as she did when she hit a crucial double jeopardy last Wednesday.
“You know what, if I bet a lot and lose today, like whatever, I had such a good run,” Roach mused, then managed to bet $8,000 and ended up taking the match against formidable challenger Ben Hsia of Fremont, California.
The category was anatomy, the clue was “To gently tease another person” and Roach’s slightly exasperated response: “I should have bet more. What’s the ‘rib’?”
Besides the conservative bets, his game was notable for the wide range of knowledge and ringing commands that “Jeopardy!” champions have. Athletic skills don’t contribute to the latter, said Roach, who admits sports is not a privileged category.
Among his trademarks are an engaging smile and a wise wave at the camera at the start of a game; tattoos, including Talking Heads song lyrics, and serious outfits with a personal touch. For a recent interview, however, she paired a T-shirt with jeans.
“There’s no denim on ‘Jeopardy!’,” Roach said helpfully. As for her on-camera wardrobe, it was all the clothes she already owned — “I hate shopping,” she said — that she thought would send the right message.
“I wanted to be comfortable, I wanted to look professional and I wanted to express my personality, and I think I achieved that,” she said.
Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who lives in Toronto, Roach credits his love of learning to his mother, Patti MacKinnon, an auditor, and his father, Phil Roach, who works in human resources. Mattea Roach started reading at age 3, skipped a grade in elementary school, and enrolled at the University of Toronto at age 16.
After mom and dad helped pay for the first two years of college, Roach put herself through the rest.
“I have three younger siblings at home, and even with them (his parents) both working, there’s not a lot of money for everyone,” she said. . “I thought to myself that I could work, so why shouldn’t I? »
She majored in sexual diversity studies and obtained minors in political science and women’s and gender studies. The school’s debating program helped her gain confidence and tackle unfamiliar topics, training presumably useful for “Jeopardy!” – and perhaps politics.
As a youngster, Roach said, she had a vague interest in the “workings of government” and, although she retained an interest in it, she realized it would not be a good choice. Despite the flurry of media and online attention that “Jeopardy!” brought, “I’m actually a very private person, and I prefer to have a relatively more normal job,” she said.
She was applying to law school when “Jeopardy!” called her to be a candidate. His success and that of Amodio (38 wins, $1.52 million) and Schneider (40 wins, $1.38 million) made the show’s 2021-22 season one to remember.
Roach mentioned on air that she would be able to pay off her student loans after her first victory. What does she plan to do as the sum has increased?
“I’m so boring. I don’t want to splurge,” she said.
Roach intends to invest the windfall for his future, although part of it will go towards making travel plans derailed by the pandemic. Another possible indulgence occurred to him.
“I hope I won’t be afraid to buy concert tickets anymore,” she said.