'Jeopardy!' Champ Matt Amodio Admits Controversial Answering Style Is a 'Strategy'

Jeopardy! champ Matt Amodio has revealed that his controversial style of answering clues on the show is all part of a greater "strategy."

Amodio has enjoyed a phenomenal win streak on the syndicated quiz show, with his 14-day total standing at $440,600—making him the fourth-highest earner in regular-season play in Jeopardy! history.

However, while he has stuck to the show's rules of answering clues in question form, the computer science Ph.D. Yale student has raised eyebrows for starting each of his answers with "what is"—even when the answer pertains to people.

And in an interview with the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science, Amodio has revealed that he has kept his answers consistent in style so that he can focus on the meat of the clue.

"I have a strategy where I form all of my questions with a 'what's' at the beginning, then I can focus on the rest of the clue," he said. "Other people have been very upset about me being robotic instead of forming a question differently each time.

"I was glad that Jeopardy! said this was perfectly within the rules. I've watched Jeopardy! every day of my life, so I knew it was OK."

Relating his methods to his ongoing studies, Amodio said: "That's the kind of thing we do in computer science all the time. You have a section of your program and it does 'A' or it does 'B' and it has to decide which.

"Then you realize, 'Wait, we never actually need to do "B,"' so you cut that off and just leave a smaller bit of program. It's cleaner and where there are fewer things moving, there are fewer things that can go wrong."

When asked how he's been able to garner such broad general knowledge, Amodio responded: "You know, I read a lot—I have to credit my love of reading. I spend most nights starting somewhere on Wikipedia.

"I read everything there, but also get 10 or 15 links from that article to other things that I'm interested in. That cascades to more and more, and before I know it, the night's over and I still have thousands of things I still want to read. And it just starts over the next day."

On August 2, Jeopardy! bosses clarified their rules, as a number of disgruntled viewers complained about Amodio's style of answering clues.

What’s up with Matt Amodio? A lot of “what’s” in his responses — and that’s totally acceptable!

Read more about other Jeopardy! rules here: https://t.co/6Ld05LMRR4

— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) August 2, 2021

A statement was released on the Jeopardy! Twitter account that read: "What's up with Matt Amodio? A lot of 'what's' in his response—and that's totally acceptable!"

On the show's website, an explanation read: "Over the many years that Jeopardy! has been on the air, we've experienced some rare scenarios that require us to refer back to the official rules of the game.

"Streaking champ Matt Amodio has received a lot of attention lately for his unorthodox use of 'What's...?' as a template for all responses—be they animal, vegetable or mineral. Viewers and grammar police alike have a lot of questions about what's acceptable. We've got some answers."

Matt Amodio’s 14-day total of $440,600 makes him the 4th highest earner in Jeopardy! history (regular-season play)! pic.twitter.com/AM7qd9fne0

— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) August 10, 2021

The rules, it was explained, state that while "all contestant responses to an answer must be phrased in the form of a question," there aren't specifics about grammar.

"Jeopardy! doesn't require that the response is grammatically correct," read the statement. "Further, the three-letter name of a British Invasion rock band can be a correct response all by itself ('The Who?'), and even 'Is it...?' has been accepted. So, Matt Amodio's no-frills approach is unique but well with guidelines."

According to the rules, contestants who don't answer in question format in "Jeopardy!" rounds receive gentle reminders from the host, though such errors lead to a loss of points in the "Double Jeopardy!" round.

The statement continued: "At 'Final Jeopardy!' the contestant coordinators are on stage to confirm that wagers are entered properly and to brief the contestants through the final steps of the game. Part of that briefing includes giving the contestants the appropriate 'Who' or 'What' for the final clue."

"Jeopardy!" champ addresses answering strategy
The late Alex Trebek rehearses his lines on the set of the "Jeopardy!" Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament Show Taping on April 17, 2010 in Culver City, California. Producers are currently searching for a permanent replacement for the beloved host, following his November death. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images