'I'm getting recognized when I leave my house now': Mattea Roach on 'Jeopardy!' streak

Mattea Roach is still tutoring and planning to go back to school after becoming the most successful Canadian contestant in “Jeopardy!” history.

“My cheque is coming in the mail this week, so I haven’t been able to go out and spend a bunch of money that I didn’t have before,” Roach told CTV News Channel from her hometown of Halifax. “The main thing that’s changed is I’m getting recognized when I leave my house now, which is certainly something that didn’t used to happen before ‘Jeopardy!’”

The 23-year-old’s remarkable 23-game streak ended Friday with US$560,983 in prize money, or more than CA$720,000. The streak puts Roach in fifth place for most games won and highest winnings in a regular season on the long-running quiz show, the best-ever performance for a Canadian.

Perhaps key to her success, Roach says she was able to overcome whatever nervousness she felt before first stepping on the “Jeopardy!” stage.

“I just went into game mode, and from that point forward there was no nerves,” she said. “I knew I just had to focus on playing the game to the best of my abilities, and luckily, I was able to do that.”

Roach said she prepared for games by studying past clues online and watching the show daily, “just to get a feel for the rhythm.”

“And then before taping, when I was in the studio, I basically just tried to give myself a little pep talk in my head as I was standing on stage, waiting for the cameras to come on, just telling myself: ‘Focus on things that you can control’ and ‘It’s showtime, let’s give them a great show,” she said.

After 23 great and suspenseful shows, Roach revealed a select few already knew how things on the show would turn out.

“Basically, the rule during COVID is that anyone who would have been in the studio audience watching if it weren’t for COVID, you’re allowed to tell those people,” Roach explained. “So, I was able to talk to my parents and a couple close friends about it, and that helped me not spill the beans to other people when I wasn’t supposed to.”

Those family and friends, of course, couldn’t be prouder.

“My mom said, ‘You know “proud” is like the most overused word now in our house,’” Roach said.

Smart on screen and off, Roach plans to talk to a financial advisor after her cheque arrives. She first wants to pay off her student debt and put money towards future tuition.

“I want to make sure I’m using that money wisely, and that I’m not just going and squandering it on frivolous stuff,” she said. “So, my hope is to invest most of it in as secure a manner as I can, and then hopefully use it to help me buy a house in the next, say five to seven years.”

Although Roach lost her last game by just $1, she’s still happy with how her time on “Jeopardy!” went.

“It’s an exhausting process taping the shows, but it’s so much fun, and I had fun right up until the last moment,” she said. “No one, least of all myself, like nobody expected that it was going to go this well.”

Roach will have another chance at the buzzer this fall when she squares off against other former winners in “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.”