‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Matt Amodio ‘Held’ His ‘Tongue’ About One Subject Around LeVar Burton

by Matthew Memrick

“Jeopardy!” champion Matt Amodio said he “held” his “tongue” around one subject in talking with show guest host LeVar Burton. 

According to the Harford Courant, Amodio is the show’s ninth highest-earning player in history, winning $268,800. So far, the 30-year-old Yale Ph.D. student has lasted an entire week on the show, winning seven games. 

While Amodio grew up watching the iconic PBS show “Reading Rainbow,” he felt the need to be reserved despite his brother’s messaging. Burton, a Sacramento native, is also known for his acting roles in Alex Haley’s “Roots” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” In 1990, LeVar Burton was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

“‘Reading Rainbow’ was a staple for me,” Amodio told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”

The contestant was in awe over LeVar Burton’s personable nature, calling him an awesome guy with a “coolness” that Amodio envies. Also, he noted Burton’s graciousness. 

“He clearly wanted to do well,” Amodio said. “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.”  

‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Loved LeVar Burton, Show Subjects

Amodio admitted to Entertainment Weekly that the total experience with both the show and LeVar Burton floored him. He told the Courant he’s a massive fan of the game show, watching it every day for all the decades he’s been alive. He also said he likes to think he would be among the top “Jeopardy!” fans if they were to be ranked.

“I had high expectations going in just because of the legend he is, and he met them. I’ll never forget it,” Amodio added.

At the same time, Amodio was careful to praise another star and guest host, Robin Roberts. Roberts hosts ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Amodio said he was amazed by her never-fading smile. He was sure she kept it from show start to finish.

“She doesn’t necessarily have the crazy Twitter momentum that got LeVar onto the show,” Amodio said, “but she was awesome and very fun.”

Amodio told the Courant the show experience kept him out of school for a few days earlier in the year. Notably, the show tapes multiple episodes at a time. The student also said his show opportunity validated his dedication to reading Wikipedia entries.

“I generally lose entire nights to reading Wikipedia pages,” Amodio said. “What changed was I started thinking, ‘I need to remember this. I may get asked about this.’ The big problem was keeping my mind calm.”