Watch ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion Matt Amodio on TV’s ‘Academic Challenge’ As a Teen (VIDEO)

Matt Amodio Jeopardy! and Academic Challenge
CBS/News 5

Current Jeopardy! champion Matt Amodio has earned his place alongside the show’s elite contestants as he recently became the third all-time highest earner with $547,600. But Jeopardy! isn’t his first taste of game show fame.

The Ohio native appeared with his Medina High School classmates on local TV quiz show Academic Challenge in 2009 when he was just a teenager. While Amodio showed off his history knowledge during the show, Medina High School ended up finishing in second place, with St. Ignatius High School claiming victory with 680 points.

Amodio is having no trouble stacking up wins now, though, as he is currently on an 18 game Jeopardy! winning streak. And after surpassing past third-place champion Jason Zuffranieri ($532,496), the Ph.D. student is now looking to chase down Jeopardy’s Greatest of All-Time, James Holzhauer ($2.46 million) and Ken Jennings ($2.52 million).

The long-running game show returns for its 38th season on September 13 and Amodio will be hoping to continue his impressive run. “Start planning your excuse for taking the whole day off right now,” Amodio tweeted.

Meanwhile, controversy still surrounds the recent hiring of exec producer Mike Richards as the new permanent host (with Mayim Bialik hosting spinoffs and specials). The New York Times reports that the Jeopardy! host receives a seven-figure salary for two days of work a week for two weeks of the month. Although, Richards’ salary is said to be nowhere near the late Alex Trebek‘s reported $16 million contract.

Many fans are still disappointed with Richards’ hiring, especially in light of past employment discrimination allegations. However, former Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist John Podhoretz isn’t too concerned. “The game is the star and the contestants are the stars,” he told the New York Times. “The host should be the secondary figure.”

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