Matt Amodio is continuing to climb the Jeopardy! All-time rankings. After a 17-game winning streak, the fifth-year Computer Science Ph.D. candidate from New Haven, Connecticut, joined the Jeopardy! Hall of Fame list on Thursday when his correct answers brought his total to more than $500,000. That high figure makes Amodio the third-highest earner in the game show’s history, just behind Ken Jennings ($2,462,216) and James Holzhauer ($2,520,700). His current winning total moved Jason Zuffranieri, who won $532,496 in 2019, into third place in the overall ranking.
Amodio secured his place in the Top 3 late in the game during the newest episode. The reigning Jeopardy! Champ, who has notably irked some viewers with his unusual, but strategic answering style, entered the final round with $30,400, giving him a lead of just $9,400 over fellow competitor Ruth Reichard, a judicial educator from Indianapolis. A clue about blockbuster movies and a correct answer from Amodio, and incorrect answers from both of his opponents, secured Amodio’s 17th-straight win and bumped his 17-day total to $547,600. Reacting to the news that he is now the third-highest earner, Amodio said, “The show has had so many brilliant people [on it]. I’m honored to be thought of as even close to them.”
“I have been incredibly fortunate to pass some of my favorite Jeopardy! Players of all time, and I still can’t believe it. The two people ahead of me have been such inspirations to me; I’m flattered to be anywhere near them in the rankings,” he added when speaking to Cleveland.com. “I also feel fortunate that the 5-day limit was still in place when another of my idols was playing, Brad Rutter. Otherwise, I’d obviously be fourth right now.”
Amodio previously told Entertainment Weekly that his “strategy going in was watching Ken [Jennings], and try to do whatever Ken does.” Before playing his first game, he said that he turned to Jennings’ TED talks, podcasts, and other tidbits of information he has dropped and “would take any notes I could from him. And then also, James [Holzhauer] brought in a lot of probability-based analysis in terms of which clue selection to do. I just remembered how they did it, and I’m hoping that I’m imitating it as best as I can.”
Following his Thursday win, Amodio will return to the Jeopardy! Stage on Friday, when he will compete against Nicolle Neulist of Chicago and Eric Shi from Houston. Although the episode will mark the Season 36 finale, it will not mark the end of Amodio’s Jeopardy! Journey. Several games before cementing his rank as the third-highest winner, Amodio secured a spot in the Tournament of Champions, which means he will return in Season 37, to be hosted by executive producer Mike Richards.