‘Jeopardy!’: Champ Matt Amodio Explains His Basic Strategy to Winning: ‘Starting Somewhere on Wikipedia’

by John Jamison
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Reaching the level of “Jeopardy!” greatness Matt Amodio has achieved in recent weeks isn’t as easy as showing up to the set with a game plan in mind. It starts years before the first appearance. For Amodio, his secret to success relies on his natural curiosity. And to a lesser degree, his ability to use the internet.

College professors everywhere will be horrified to learn that Yale student Matt Amodio has accumulated $430,000 on “Jeopardy!” using Wikipedia as a jumping-off point. But as any graduate student knows, Wikipedia is only the primer. The real value is in the material each article cites as a source. That’s where Amodio makes his money.

In an interview with the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science (Matt’s school), he talked about what makes him such a formidable “Jeopardy!” contestant.

“You know, I read a lot – I have to credit my love of reading,” Matt said. “I spend most nights starting somewhere on Wikipedia. I read everything there, but also get 10 or 15 links from that article to other things that I’m interested in. That cascades to more and more, and before I know it, the night’s over and I still have thousands of things I still want to read. And it just starts over the next day.”

The real secret here is that Matt Amodio wants to be doing all of this reading. Most would look at it as studying. But when you enjoy it as much as Matt clearly does, it’s a hobby. And once he took the results of all that reading on “Jeopardy!,” it became a profession.

At present, Matt Amodio is the 4th highest-earning “Jeopardy!” contestant of all time. It’s only taken a few weeks and four different guest hosts for him to get there.

Matt Amodio’s Favorite Moment from His Time on ‘Jeopardy!’

This isn’t to say his time on the long-running game show is anywhere close to finished, but the current “Jeopardy!” champion already has 14 straight wins to his name.

As a longtime fan of the show and now a veteran player himself, Amodio has a good reference point for significant moments. And there’s one particular moment that stands out to him from the historic run. No, it wasn’t the $100,000 mark. It wasn’t taking his place among the greatest contestants of all time. It was his first win.

“Once you do it once, that’s just such a great accomplishment. Nobody can ever take that away from you,” Amodio told Sarah Whitcomb Foss in a post-game interview.

It’s definitely easier to appreciate that moment knowing you’d go on to win many more times. But it’s still a wholesome answer from a guy who very well may become the greatest “Jeopardy!” contestant the world has ever seen.

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