Matt Amodio: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

matt amodio

Jeopardy Matt Amodio on 'Jeopardy.'

Matt Amodio is the Yale Ph.D. student winning his way into the record books on Jeopardy. Amodio is in second place for the most consecutive games won in the history of the game show. As of October 1, Amodio had won 33 games in a row. Only Ken Jennings, with 74 wins in a row, has more.

Amodio reached $1 million in total winnings as of September 24. He’s only the third player in Jeopady’s history to reach that milestone by competing in the regular games.

Fans are watching to see if Amodio can surpass records set by Jennings and James Holzhauer. Jennings earned $2,520,70 in his 74-game winning streak. Holzhauer became a millionaire after just 14 games and ultimately won $2,462,216 with 32 wins.

Here’s what you need to know about Matt Amodio:

1. Amodio is an Artificial Intelligence Researcher at Yale University

Amodio is in his fifth year of a Ph.D. program at Yale University. He is in the Computer Science department and specializes in artificial intelligence. In an interview for the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Amodio summarized his research: “My big thing is applying neural networks on biological data.”

He also explained on his LinkedIn profile that he “has built predictive models for massive data sets in fields such as social media networking, natural language processing, geospatial routing, cybersecurity, and computational advertising.” He added that he applies the same sort of data analysis to baseball “in his free time.”

Before moving to Connecticut, Amodio earned a Master of Science degree in artificial intelligence from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research there was focused on “machine learning algorithms” in “real-time bidding advertising engines.” Amodio also has a master’s degree from The Ohio State University in applied statistics and a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, according to his LinkedIn account.

2. Amodio Says He Reads Wikipedia Articles on a Regular Basis

Amodio says his knack for answering all of those Jeopardy questions correctly is due to his love of reading. But his reading material of choice may come as a surprise. Amodio says he loves to peruse Wikipedia.

“On a regular basis, I just fall into a rabbit hole of Wikipedia links, (and) every article opens up 20 more things that I have questions about it, Amodio told the Associated Press. This is just how I spend my day, or my nights when I’m done working.”

Amodio told Yale’s School of Engineering & Applied Science that history is his favorite trivia subject. “What I will say is I’m a historian – I love learning about things before my time,” Amodio said. “I’m glad that they show the category titles on the camera – otherwise you would see the huge smile on my face whenever American history comes up – that’s my wheelhouse.”

3. Amodio Studied Pop Culture During Jeopardy’s Summer Break

Amodio has a scientific mind and loves to read about historical figures and events. But he’s less adept when it comes to answering questions about pop culture. “Recent movies, recent music, television shows – I’m not very up-to-date on those,” he told Yale.

But Amodio had a unique opportunity to read up on subjects in which he was less familiar. His Jeopardy win streak has straddled two seasons of the show. His first 18 victories were part of Season 37. The show then went on hiatus for its annual summer break, giving Amodio three months to prepare.

Amodio told The Ringer, “I was able to be productive this summer by sitting down and watching a lot of recent Netflix stuff and listening to top Billboard songs that I would not normally be giving the time of day.” He joked, “I was consuming pop culture like a teenager who was in the middle of an angsty period.”

4. Amodio Grew Up in a Cleveland Suburb & Competed on a Local Quiz Show in High School

Amodio told The Ringer he spent the summer at his parent’s house in Medina, which is a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Medina High School in 2009. He was the valedictorian, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Amodio gained some game show experience as a high school student. He competed on a local quiz show called Academic Challenge, which was put on by WEWS-TV, an ABC affiliate in Cleveland. According to WEWS-TV, Amodio and his classmates “started off strong” before losing to St. Ignatius High School. You can see clips of Amodio’s appearance on Academic Challenge here.

As for how he ended up on Jeopardy, Amodio says he can thank his father for encouraging him to try out. He told Yale that his father pushed him to complete Jeopardy’s online quiz. The second time he did the quiz, he received the invitation to audition. “I definitely have to tip my cap to my dad on that one – You’re right, I’m glad I did that!”

5. Ken Jennings Is Amodio’s Idol

Amodio has reached a level of success on Jeopardy that few others have ever obtained. But he’s expressed humility throughout his long run and continues to idolize Ken Jennings.

On August 9, Jennings tweeted about Amodio and wrote, “This guy is the Jeopardy! story no one is following.”

Amodio commented back, “Ken, you’ve been a hero and an inspiration to me for almost two decades. I just want to thank you for everything you’ve given to the world.”

Amodio also shared Kennings’ tweet and added a meme of comedian Jon Stewart looking excited with “oh my god oh my god oh my god” at the bottom.

On September 6, Amodio further expressed his admiration for Jennings as the “greatest of all time.” Amodio wrote, “On this day 17 years ago, Ken Jennings began Season 21 as a 38-day champion. He would go on to win another game or 36. We would have to wait until 2020 to see him crowned, but we all knew he was the #Jeopardy GOAT in 2004. Long live the Ken!”

Amodio took it a step further on September 17 when he joked on Twitter: “I love my parents, who are kind, charming, funny people. But @KenJennings is a kind, charming, funny person and the #Jeopardy GOAT. Sorry, mom and dad, nobody can compete with that.”

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