‘Jeopardy!’: Matt Amodio Responds to Stephen Sondheim’s Death with Deep Pull to His First Episode

by Kati Michelle

Fans of “Jeopardy!” have seen history-in-the-making with Matt Amodio and his impressive multi-category sweeps. He now sits only behind Ken Jennings with the second-longest streak (38 consecutive games) in all of the show’s 38 seasons. And it’s clear that Amodio knows his stuff from obscure presidential facts to geography, but there’s something fans might not know about the whiz. Apparently, he’s a musical theatre buff, too. Well, sort of.

Unfortunately, Broadway lost one of its greatest minds to date earlier today. Famed lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim passed away at his Connecticut home at the age of 91. Known for works like “Sweeney Todd” and “West Side Story,” most of your favorite musicals can be attributed to his brilliant work. His connection to Matt Amodio comes from an earlier appearance of Amodio on “Jeopardy!” and the fact that one pesky Broadway clue almost changed the entire trajectory of the show.

‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Matt Amodio Shares an Inside Joke With Fans on Twitter

“Jeopardy!” champ Matt Amodio is known for his satirical humor on social media, especially when it comes to his Twitter page. This is the tweet he shared earlier this afternoon following news of Stephen Sondheim’s passing:

The joke? Stephen Sondheim didn’t compose Cats, though he did share a birthday with its composer. Actually, Sondheim didn’t have anything to do with the production. At the surface, it might even appear to be a joke in bad taste. Upon further review, however, it’s actually a reference to a moment that could have ruined Amodio’s legendary streak on “Jeopardy!” before it even started.

The $400 Question That Changed the Game Show’s Course

Before the Yale graduate student was breaking records with the second-most wins in the history of the game show, one question made all the difference between starting a streak and going home. Amodio found himself struggling against another contestant named Josh. Trailing behind and nearing the end of the game, it didn’t look too good for Amodio.

The final clue before heading into “Final Jeopardy!” was a first-row $400 box. Usually, this means the clues are at a lesser difficulty level than the top-row ones. That wasn’t necessarily the case here, though. The clue stated “This composer’s EGOT includes Tonys for ‘Evita’, ‘Cats’ & ‘Sunset Boulevard.’”

After appearing to struggle, Josh incorrectly buzzed in with “Who is Sondheim?” and lost $400. Matt, on the other hand, decided to remain silent and thus went into “Final Jeopardy!” with the slightest lead. And that’s all it took for him to emerge the victor.

“Who is Andrew Lloyd Webber?” would have been the correct play, so there’s the roundabout joke.