‘Jeopardy!’: Matt Amodio Becomes 3rd Champion to Break Into Million-Dollar Territory

Contestant Matt Amodio just joined the million-dollar ranks on Jeopardy! Scoring his 28th victory on Sept. 24, the Ph.D. student ended the game wtih $48,800, bringing his total winnings $1,004,001. Despite his impressive intellect, Amodio claims he hadn’t envisioned such a successful run when he began on the game show.

Game show host Alex Trebek on the set of 'Jeopardy!'
Game show host Alex Trebek on the set of ‘Jeopardy!’ | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Matt Amodio may close the gap between these ‘Jeopardy!’ champs

Amodio was clearly thrilled by his million-dollar win last Friday, and considered the dollar amount a pleasant surprise.

“This was beyond my wildest dreams going in,” Amodio said, according to Deadline. “I knew it was a possibility, but I thought it was a very remote possibility, and to have it actually happen is unbelievable.”

Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings still tops the list for highest winnings at $2,520,700 during his record 74-game streak. Champ James Holzhauer is a close second, bringing in $2,462,216 after 32 games. Fans are tuning in each night to see if Amodio can bypass the Jeopardy! legends.

RELATED: Why ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Matt Amodio Revealed This Fear on the Air

‘Jeopardy!’ champ loves the new moniker

While Amodio is ecstatic with the influx of cash, he takes great pride in the new label for which he can now be known.

“I wanted to win one game,” he told Vulture. “Being on the show is a tremendous accomplishment, and I don’t want to denigrate that at all. But once you win, you’re a Jeopardy! champion. You can call yourself a ‘Jeopardy! champion’, not a ‘Jeopardy! participant’. That’s something nobody can take away from you.”

Amodio felt a sense of relief after his first victory, knowing he could permanently carry the impressive moniker regardless of upcoming games.

“You might lose the next game, or you might lose 71 games later if you’re Ken Jennings,” he remarked. “You’re going to lose eventually. But that never takes away from the descriptor. I wanted to have that under my belt, and I was very worried for most of my first game that it wasn’t appearing to happen. I squeaked one out and it was a close call – I don’t think anything has surpassed that moment winning the first game. But, again, just standing on that stage is such an accomplishment.”

Matt Amodio is stockpiling his ‘Jeopardy!’ winnings

Amodio previously confessed that his pop culture knowledge is a bit of a weak point and often turned to TMZ as a resource. For other subjects, he sticks with the tried-and-true method of opening the books.

“My studying was good old-fashioned reading,” he explained. “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. I love classical music. I was thrilled to answer all of those clues.”

RELATED: ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion Matt Amodio Has ‘1 Real Regret’ During His Winning Streak

As a Ph.D. student at Yale University, Amodio revealed he won’t be shelling out his winnings on anything frivolous.

“I’ll be saving it,” he said of his Jeopardy! jackpot. “I’ve been living from small Ph.D. paycheck to small Ph.D. paycheck for a long time now. Rent in New Haven isn’t cheap. It’s going to be awesome to have a cushion and a rainy-day fund that I hopefully won’t have to dip into for some time. It’ll definitely ease the stress. I’m gonna do the boring thing and try to invest it wisely. I’m learning about the art of investing. It’s fun… I guess.”

Amodio competes in his 29th Jeopardy! game on Sept. 27.