Mattea Roach, a writer and podcaster from Toronto, finished second in the final round of the Jeopardy! Masters tournament, which aired Wednesday night.
Roach, who identifies as queer/lesbian and uses they/them pronouns, came in second to professional gambler and self-described "game show villain" James Holzhauer, who dominated much of the tournament. Matt Amodio, a postdoctoral researcher, placed third. Holzhauer received $500,000, Roach $250,000, and Amodio $150,000. Roach acquitted herself well in the two-game, cumulative affair, leading Holzhauer going into the Final Jeopardy! round of the second game, but Holzhauer's score from the first game put him over the top.
The first-of-its-kind tournament pitted six of the show's top champions against each other. Sam Buttrey, a college professor, and Amy Schneider, a writer and former software engineer (and the top-winning woman and transgender contestant in Jeopardy! history), were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Andrew He, a software developer, was eliminated in the semifinals.
Roach had moved into the finals of the Masters tournament after accumulating enough points in the semifinals to tie them with He. The tie was broken by the number of correct answers each had given — Roach had 50, He 45.
Roach, 24, was the youngest person in the tournament. They are also the youngest to rank in the top five for consecutive games won in the show’s history and the first Gen Z super-champion. They won 23 regular-season games in 2022 and became noted not only for their broad knowledge but for their outgoing, engaging personality and their fashion sense — tailored but individualistic.
In the last game of the semifinals, which aired Tuesday, Roach opened up about the death of their father, Philip Roach, who died of a brain aneurysm May 2 at age 57. “He’s a huge part of the reason why I’m here,” they told host Ken Jennings in the interview segment. “He and my mom instilled a love of geography in me; my dad taught me all about Turner Classic Movies and old music and all sorts of things. So in what might have been my last game of the series, I wanted to recognize the impact he had on my life.”
“I was actually here at set when my dad died,” they continued. “And everyone who’s at production, my fellow contestants, I could not have asked for better support going through what is pretty much the worst day of my life so far. Everyone who made sure that I did not have to continue playing and go home and be with my mom and my brothers. My whole family is so thankful for everyone here at Jeopardy! for helping us through this really difficult time.” Roach choked up toward the end of their remarks.
Jennings said everyone at the show is “heartbroken” about Roach’s loss. “Speaking as a dad, I can only guess at how proud he must have been of you, and I’m so glad he had the chance to see you play,” he added.
Then in the finals, Roach honored their mother, Patti, as the rock of their family. Roach's mother was able to attend some of the tournament tapings in Culver City, Calif.
\u201cOur hearts go out to Mattea and their family \ud83d\udc99\u201d
Roach also paid tribute to their father on Twitter.
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(2/8) I wanted to acknowledge my dad in the context of tonight\u2019s game firstly bc he was the subject of the first ever contestant anecdote I ever told on Jeopardy. My thought had been that if I only ever got 30 seconds of time to talk on the show, I wanted it to be about him\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(3/8) I also wanted to talk about my dad bc he passed away while Masters was in production. The first seven episodes were taped before he died, the final three were taped after. (He got to see episode four in studio so he knew it was going well-ish for me)\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(4/8) I\u2019ll say this on TV tonight but I want to express it again here - I was at the set of Jeopardy when my dad died. Short of being at home with family, I cannot imagine a better place to be when receiving such horrific news\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(5/8) My fellow contestants were beyond supportive in the moment, and so many people on the production side of things moved mountains to make sure I could get home to my family and then come back later in the month to finish out the competition\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(6/8) My dad\u2019s death has had some circulation in the news even before me acknowledging it here, and I personally disagree with the premise that it\u2019s newsworthy (he was not a public figure, I am not a big enough name for the death of a family member to warrant public interest)\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(7/8) Outside of this thread and my remarks in tonight\u2019s episode of Masters, I have no further public comment to offer about my dad right now. I would ask that people respect my privacy and my family\u2019s privacy as our grief is still very fresh\u201d
\u201c\ud83e\uddf5(8/8) Lastly - this is my dad\u2019s Reach for the Top (quiz bowl for Americans) team photo from 1983. Dad is seated in the flannel shirt. Everything I am doing on TV this week is for him \u2764\ufe0f\u201d