Mattea Roach is the most successful Gen Z Jeopardy! contestant in history. But they don't feel like a “trivia pro,” Roach said in a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interview.
Roach, who identifies as queer/lesbian and uses they/them pronouns, 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. At 24, Roach was the youngest contestant in this year’s Jeopardy! Masters tournament, and they rank sixth in all-time monetary winnings, both for regular-season games and totals including tournaments. They’re also the top Canadian contestant ever.
Roach is modest about their achievements, however. “I would not call myself a trivia pro at all,” they said in an interview for CBC Kids News.
“I auditioned for the show basically on a whim because I was bored during COVID,” Roach explained. “I completely then did not do anything after doing my initial test to prepare for the eventuality of being on the show because the odds are just so long, right?”
“I would say the real secret to being good at Jeopardy! is actually just being a person who generally is curious and pays attention to the world around you,” they continued.
They said the key to remembering information is finding something interesting about it. One of Roach’s weaker subjects, they said, is science, as science courses didn’t interest them in high school. “I have to trick myself into caring about learning about it, and the thing that I’m finding interesting now is, like, now that I have, like, a trivia-related incentive to learn things about science, I actually do kind of care about it more because it feels relevant to my life in a way that it simply did not in high school.”
Roach went on to say they can’t leave the house without their headphones, as listening to music is a necessity; that their pet peeve is able-bodied adults who walk slowly; and that an item on their bucket list is a trip to Belgium, as Roach’s father once had a great visit there.
Their father, Philip Roach, died of a brain aneurysm this spring, and Mattea was on the set of the Jeopardy! Masters tournament when they received the news. During the tournament semifinals, Mattea praised the Jeopardy! staff and fellow contestants for being supportive and accommodating. Mattea finished second in the tournament, and James Holzhauer, who finished first, whispered to Roach, “Your dad would be so proud of you.”
Roach, a tutor during their first run on Jeopardy!, is now a freelance writer and podcaster, hosting The Backbench, a podcast on Canadian politics.
Mattea Roach interview: The surprising way they prepared for Jeopardy! | CBC Kids Newswww.youtube.com