‘Jeopardy! Masters’ Crowns Its First Champion After Nail-Biter Final Game

James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio & Mattea Roach compete in the 'Jeopardy! Masters' final on May 24, 2023
Spoiler Alert
ABC/Christopher Willard

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the Jeopardy! Masters finale.]

Jeopardy! Masters has named its first champion! The adrenaline ran high as finalists James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio, and Mattea Roach raced for the Daily Doubles, often betting it all (and succeeding) when found. Crowd reactions were abound as the players whipped through the categories, knocking out two full games in the episode. The tournament final, as Ken Jennings said in reference to Alex Trebek, “is a two-game, total-point affair,” meaning the player with the highest combined score would take home the inaugural Trebek Trophy.

James started game one on a high note: He found the one Daily Double right out of the gate. He answered incorrectly, however, sinking his score from zero to -1,000. The game was fast-paced and filled with playful jabs between the players, who were clearly feeling the high-stakes thrill of being in the finals (in addition to a $500,000 grand prize, Jeopardy! would also donate to a cause of their choice after the tournament, so there was even more on the line). The biggest laugh of the night was a hilarious jab at New York’s Representative George Santos, whose string of lies have landed him under federal investigation.

The clue in the “Recent Events” category was, “Subheads in a piece on this N.Y. Rep.: ‘Lied about where he went to…college’; ‘Allegedly swindled a disabled vet whose dog was dying.'” Mattea correctly responded, “Who is George Santos” with a laugh. As Ken quipped back, “I don’t get to say this very much, but George Santos is correct.” Cue the loud audience laughter.

By the end of the first Final Jeopardy, James (the self-proclaimed villain of the tourney) was in the lead at 22,400, Mattea was in second with 16,800, and Matt was in third with 6,000. He was able to double his score with his correct final answer, bringing him to 12,000. But James and Mattea also answered correctly, leaving their scores at 34,314 and 24,800, respectively.

Ken Jennings in the 'Jeopardy! Masters' final

ABC/Christopher Willard

James repeated his Daily Double luck with his first move of the second game, finding the special clue on his first turn. Unfortunately, he also answered this one wrong (this time by giving no answer at all), once again dropping his score from 0 to -1,000. He wasn’t in the red for long.

Mattea had a runaway lead by the time game two’s Final Jeopardy arrived. With Mattea at 22,800 points, James at 9,600, and Matt at 3,200, no bets could be large enough to match or surpass Mattea’s score.

The final category was “Latin in Literature.” The clue: “A work by this 15th century English writer quotes the phrase ‘Rex quondam rexque futurus.'” Matt got some of the last laughs of the night with his response: “Who… will win?!” Clearly, he had no idea what the right answer was, choosing to bow out on a cheerful note. Having wagered nothing, he stayed at 3,200 points. His total score was 15,200.

James’ response (“Who is T.H. Wight”) was also incorrect, dropping him down to 9,481. His total score was 43,795. Mattea also answered wrong with “Who is Chaucer.” The correct response was Thomas Mallory. With their 5,915 wager, their score dropped down to 16,885. Their combined score of 41,685 left them just a few thousand points away from James. And with that, James became the first winner of Jeopardy! Masters!

Before walking over to receive the Trebek Trophy, he hugged Mattea and said, “You played amazingly. Your dad’s so proud of you.” Mattea’s father, Phillip Roach, died of a brain aneurysm on May 2, 2023. The Jeopardy! champ shared a touching tribute to their late dad on social media just a few hours before the Jeopardy! Masters final aired.

Mattea will now go home with $250,000, and Matt will take home $150,000. As an additional perk of making it to the finals, all three players now have guaranteed spots in next year’s Jeopardy! Masters tournament. What did you think of the final showdown?