Amodio, a Yale computer science Ph.D. student and Ohio native, had tied the Las Vegas sports gambler's 32-game streak Thursday and now ranks second to "GOAT" Ken Jennings for consecutive games won.
Host Mayim Bialik made note of the potential milestone before starting the game. "Will it be Matt celebrating this weekend, or one of our new challengers?" she asked.
Amodio faced off against two other graduate students Friday: Thomas Dai, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Samantha Wells of Urbana, Illinois. Amodio had a wide lead with $10,400 as the first round concluded. The margin only grew as the game progressed. Amodio amassed $35,400 ahead of Final Jeopardy, nearly seven times Wells' earnings. As usual, unless Amodio made a reckless wager for the clue involving American History, there was no way for his competitors to catch up.
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The champ's wager of $20,000 ensured another victory, even if he didn't know the answer to the final clue: "The April 26, 1906 edition of The Call, a newspaper in this city, reported on the heroic death of hoseman James O’Neil." But he knew the answer (San Francisco) – the only one of the three contestants who did – bringing his daily earnings to $55,400 and his total winnings to $1,267,801.
“You now have the second-most consecutive wins in 'Jeopardy!' history," Bialik told Amodio. "Congratulations!”
“Wow, thank you, thank you,” he replied.
Even with an impressive 33 games under Amodio's belt, he still has a way to go to topple Jennings' 74-game record, set in 2004.
“Ken’s always been the face of 'Jeopardy!' to me, so when I think of 'Jeopardy!,' I think of him,” Amodio said in a statement. “To (be) right behind him is a surreal experience.”
Amodio even commemorated Jennings' feat in a Sept. 6 tweet: "On this day 17 years ago, Ken Jennings began Season 21 as a 38-day champion. He would go on to win another game or 36. We would have to wait until 2020 to see him crowned, but we all knew he was the #Jeopardy GOAT in 2004. Long live the Ken!"
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Amodio paid tribute to Holzhauer ahead of Thursday's streak-tying milestone.
"I have the chance to remind everybody how much better than me @James_Holzhauer is in literally every way," he tweeted. "It would be an honor to be unfavorably compared to a person I admire so much!"
Holzhauer has been much less sincere on the social media site, taking a playful jab at Amodio. "When you order something online vs. when it arrives," Holzhauer captioned a Sept. 20 post, which put pictures of the two contestants and their 23-day totals side-by-side. Amodio trailed Holzhauer by nearly $1 million.
"Must be nice having time to throw shade on Twitter," Amodio shot back. "Us #Jeopardy champions with 0 career losses have actual work to do."
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— Matt Amodio (@AmodioMatt) September 20, 2021
After winning 18 games last season, Amodio racked up a pot of $574,801, and he's come out on top every game since the current "Jeopardy!" season kicked off Sept. 13. He remains in third place for highest winnings in regular games, trailing both Jennings with $2,520,700, and Holzhauer, with $2,462,216, thanks to that aggressive wagering.
Amodio will likely have the time of his life chasing their records and his next victory. In celebration of 30 wins, he tweeted: "I know whatever happens next, this has been the ride of a lifetime on #Jeopardy."
For those curious about how he does it, Amodio explained he amassed a breadth of knowledge by reading in an interview with The Associated Press published in August. "On a regular basis, I just fall into a rabbit hole of Wikipedia links, (and) every article opens up 20 more things that I have questions about it," he said. "This is just how how I spend my day, or my nights when I'm done working."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Jeopardy' champ Matt Amodio bests James Holzhauer's winning streak