Mattea Roach has represented the queer community, Generation Z, and Canada in stellar fashion during their time on Jeopardy! Monday night, Roach will be in the semifinals of the Jeopardy! Masters tournament, a first-of-its kind event featuring six of the show’s most successful contestants.
Two of them, college professor Sam Buttrey and writer Amy Schneider (the top-winning woman and transgender person in Jeopardy! history), were eliminated in the quarterfinals, which aired over the past two weeks. But Roach, who identifies as queer/lesbian and uses they/them pronouns, advanced to the semifinals along with postdoctoral researcher Matt Amodio, software developer Andrew He, and professional gambler and self-described “game show villain” James Holzhauer.
At 24, Roach is the youngest person in the Masters tournament and the youngest to rank in the top five for consecutive games won in the show’s history. They are also 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. Having won $560,983 during their streak, Roach ranks sixth in regular-season winnings and 10th in all-time winnings (including tournaments).
Roach was a tutor during their original run on Jeopardy!, coaching those about to take the Law School Admission Test. Now they’re a freelance writer and podcaster, hosting The Backbench, a podcast on Canadian politics.
Roach is the most successful Jeopardy! contestant from Canada. “So my family thought it was very important that I say that I'm from Halifax,” they said in a 2022 episode. "I was there for the first six years of my life, and I also went to school there, but I’ve also lived in Calgary for a couple of years when I was younger and Moncton in New Brunswick, which is where I learned French. So I’ve been a little bit all over.” Roach now lives in Toronto.
Roach has publicly thanked their family for support. “My parents have been so patient with me and so encouraging of my desire to learn from day one, and I’m so grateful for how well they dealt with being thrust into the spotlight as a result of my time on Jeopardy,” Roach tweeted last year.
The family suffered a major loss recently. Mattea’s father, Philip Roach, died of a brain aneurysm May 2 at age 57. “Phil’s four children were the greatest joy of his life, and he endeavored to pass all his wisdom and enthusiasm for living down to them, through long lectures about local history, Trivial Pursuit beatdowns, and instruction in music and movies from before their time,” his obituary reads. “His efforts were mostly successful. Phil could be relied upon to boast about all his children equally, regardless of the scale or scope of their accomplishments. He was the proudest dad around and made this abundantly clear to anyone who would listen.”
Speaking of music before their time, Mattea tweeted last June about attending a Kraftwerk concert with their father. Mattea is also known for their love of Talking Heads, sporting tattoos of the new wave band’s lyrics (along with tattoos of cowboys and more). And the Beatles’ “Let It Be” is quoted in Roach’s Twitter feed.
This month, their Twitter feed included a shout-out to the Writers Guild of America, whose members are currently on strike (the questions for the Masters tournament were written before the strike began).
In Monday’s semifinals episode, Holzhauer, He, and Amodio will compete in the first half hour’s game, and then Holzhauer, He, and Roach will face off in the second half hour. The second round of the semifinals will air Tuesday, with the matchups to be determined by Monday’s results. The top three contestants from the semifinals will meet in the finals, airing Wednesday. All episodes will be broadcast at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central on ABC and will stream on Hulu.