With all this newfound attention, the Ph.D. student from New Haven, Connecticut, has spoken to Vulture about his time so far on the show, including revealing his biggest weakness — celebrity pop culture! But he still came prepared…just in case. “Thankfully, if there’s one thing the internet has information on, it’s celebrities,” admitted Amodio, who basically did a TMZ deep-dive in preparation for the show.
“I would read about Brad Pitt and how he was married to Jennifer Aniston before Angelina Jolie,” he explained. “I found myself interested in the answers to these questions more than I thought I would be. I went down Wikipedia pages for a lot of awards shows and then went down the rabbit holes of links.”
And the most interesting nugget of celebrity info he discovered during his research? That Elvis Presley’s daughter was married to Nicolas Cage. “I was like, There’s no way that’s the same Presley? There can’t be two Presley families in pop culture? That blew my mind. Two worlds colliding.”
Here are the rest of the essential details from Amodio’s Vulture interview:
He’s a Huge Ken Jennings Fan
Amodio is a superfan of Jeopardy‘s highest-ever earner. “It was like a sporting event. If there was gear, I would’ve bought gear and a big foam finger to root him on from my living room,” he said.
He also can’t believe that Jennings interacted with him on Twitter. “In terms of the top moments of my life, I assume getting my Ph.D. will be a good one. When I get married, that’ll be a good one. I’m not sure they’re gonna unseat Ken Jennings recognizing me.”
He Needed Red Bull to Get Him Through Games
Matt admitted that he’s not a morning person and Jeopardy’s filming schedule of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. caused him concern. “I’m not my best that early. I took way too many energy drinks,” he said. “I increased Red Bull’s stock valuations during my time there.”
He Worries About Becoming A Villain
Amodio is concerned that his winning streak will turn him into someone fans don’t like. “I worry about becoming a bit of a villain; a Death Star of someone who just keeps winning,” he stated.
He Researched By Reading A Lot
In preparing for the show, Amodio spent a lot of time with his head in books. “I just read a lot. I knew my weaknesses coming in. I’m a computer science student, but my recreational reading is history, geography, and literature.”
His Daily Double Strategy
Amodio’s big Daily Double gambles have impressed viewers and he explained that it is all about not being timid. “If I have the opportunity to, I’m not gonna let timidity get in my way,” he said. “I’ll bet on myself and try to take the game out of the control of the opponents.”
His Favorite Hosts
Throughout his time on the show, Amodio has so far played with four different guest hosts — Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, David Faber, and Joe Buck. And he admitted there were two he especially liked. He said that as a baseball fan it was “tremendous” to play with Buck. “He brought such energy to the show…he treats Jeopardy! like a sports game. I was on the stage constantly smiling and laughing when he was hosting.” He was impressed with Faber too, who he described as “charismatic and calm,” and added: “If I had a chance to be friends with David, I think I could spend significant amount of times with him and enjoy it.”
What Will He Do With His Winnings?
“I’ll be saving it,” Amodio said. As a Ph.D. student living paycheck to paycheck, he is happy to have his $500,000+ and counting “rainy-day fund.” He is also learning about “the art of investing.”
Jeopardy!, Weeknights, Check your local listings