'Jeopardy!' Clarifies Rules After Contestant's Answering Style Irks Viewers

Jeopardy! bosses have clarified the long-running quiz show's rules, following controversy over current champ Matt Amodio's style of answering clues.

As any dedicated fan knows, the syndicated show presents the clues which contestants are required to answer in question form.

And while Amodio hasn't broken the rules in that sense, his penchant for starting each of his questions with "what is"—even when the answer pertains to people—has sparked ire among a faction of viewers.

In response to the avalanche of disgruntled viewer comments, a statement was released on the Jeopardy! Twitter account on Monday that read: "What's up with Matt Amodio? A lot of 'what's' in his response—and that's totally acceptable!"

A link to the show's website was shared, where 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."

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."

Per the rules, contestants who don't answer in question format in 'Jeopardy!' rounds receive gentle reminders from the host, though such errors forfeit points in the 'Double Jeopardy!' round.

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

Diehard #jeopardy fans like me carry a copy of the official rules at all times, anyway.

— Matt Amodio (@AmodioMatt) August 2, 2021

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."

Responding to the Jeopardy! tweet, Amodio wrote: "Diehard #jeopardy fans like me carry a copy of the official rules at all times, anyway."

Amodio was asked about the controversy during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, responding: "I don't necessarily want to say too much about that. I guess I just want to say that I hope nobody's offended by it.

"I do hear some people say that it's disrespectful to the game, and I would counter that if there was a Jeopardy! fan club ranking, I think I would have a strong case to be number one Jeopardy! fan. I live and breathe the show, I love every aspect of it, and so I'm definitely not doing it out of any disrespect or undermining of the show."

Matt Amodio’s winning streak is still going strong! He now ranks #8 for highest winnings in regular season play! 👏 pic.twitter.com/zdbtOQbd4l

— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) August 3, 2021

Computer science Ph.D Yale student Amodio is currently enjoying an impressive eight-game winning streak, with Jeopardy! revealing in a tweet on Monday that he now ranks eighth "for highest winnings in regular season play" after scooping $310,400.

Having won more than five games, Amodio will return to Jeopardy! next season for the Tournament of Champions, which he told Entertainment Weekly he's looking forward to "with a combination of anticipation and dread."

"Because my competitors have been extremely smart," he explained, "but on the other hand, in the Tournament of Champions, you've filtered it so that you only get people who have won at least five games of Jeopardy.

"That's going to be a more competitive stage than I'm prepared for mentally. So I'm quite worried about that. Hopefully I'll do well, but I'll be shaking in my boots a little bit."

"Jeopardy!" bosses clarify the rules
"Jeopardy!" bosses have clarified the long-running show's rules, after current champ Matt Amodio irked fans with his style of answering clues. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images