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Jeopardy! star Mattea Roach opens up on ‘terrible day’ they learned of their father’s sudden death while filming Masters

Jeopardy! star Mattea Roach opens up on ‘terrible day’ they learned of their father’s sudden death while filming Masters

JEOPARDY! sensation Mattea Roach has opened up about learning of their father’s sudden death while they were on set.

The 24-year-old was filming May’s Jeopardy! Masters – in which they nearly beat James Holzhauer– at the time.

GettyMattea Roach was filming Jeopardy! Masters when they were told their father died[/caption]

Twitter / Mattea Roach‘It was such a terrible day, but at least I get to be here,’ they shared- referring to their ‘Jeopardy! family’[/caption]

NBCMattea bonded with their fellow Masters before flying home: ‘I was like, ‘well, we’re here, what am I gonna do sit around? Let’s hang around and be together’[/caption]

Mattea joined the podcast Inside Jeopardy! on Monday to reflect on the recent special.

The fifth-winningest regular play Jeopardy! contestant ever- who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them- was midway through taping Jeopardy! Masters when they got the unimaginable news.

Phillip Henry Roach died at age 57 on May 2, 2023, at Mattea’s family home in Canada of a brain aneurysm.

Mattea’s mom contacted them via phone call, and production stopped so Mattea could fly home.


They shared: “At first, my mom felt really bad that I was down there by myself and she wasn’t with me.”

“But the second time I called her back, and she said: ‘I realized you’re not with your family, but you’re with a family.’”

Mattea bonded with five of their six fellow famous contestants – Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Sam Buttrey, and Andrew He– in the green room while waiting to leave.

“I have this photo on my phone I really love- a selfie of the other five of us.

I think James [Holzhuaer] had gone home already. Actually, from the day my dad passed.”

“I was like, ‘well, we’re here, what am I gonna do sit around? Let’s hang around and be together.’

“It was such a terrible day, but at least I get to be here with this group of people.

“It could be worse. It really could be worse.”

“It was unfortunate in some senses, but this show has experienced the loss of Alex [Trebek].

“People are experienced in having to come together in those moments.”

“Any loss is unfortunate, but it’s beautiful that people are able to come together and support each other. I’m grateful for that.”

“We became close,” they somberly shared.


James Holzhauer eventually won the Jeopardy! Masters crown and $500,000 by the thinnest of margins in a fierce finale.

Mattea only lost by 2100 combined points after James made a slightly savvier Final Jeopardy wager- they were leading up until the very last question.

The 32-time winner and pro gambler was pushed to the brink, all after Mattea had returned and was reeling from the sudden loss of their father.

Mattea went home with $250,000 for second place, and Matt Amodio $150,000 for placing third.

James whispered, “Your dad would be so proud of you” and went over and hugged Mattea when declared the champion.


Mattea tearfully revealed the loss of Phillip Henry Roach on stage after filming resumed, saying they were dedicating the rest of their performance to him.

“My dad passed away at the start of the month very suddenly. He’s a huge part of the reason why I’m here.”

“He and my mom instilled an early love of geography in me. My dad taught me all about Turner Classic Movies and old movies.”

“So I wanted to recognize the impact he had on my life.”

“And also recognize, I was actually here at the set when my dad died.”

James tweeted after winning the title: “Mattea’s performance would have been unbelievable in the best of times.

Considering everything they went through this month, this was the gutsiest Jeopardy! achievement since Cindy Stowell’s [who won the 2016 ToC but died of cancer before it aired].

An absolute, star-making masterclass in how to play the game.

“I’m lucky the scores were even this close entering Final. I benefited from more luck in the end. But no one will forget Mattea’s #JeopardyMasters dominance.”


The Gen-Z, Canadian-born contestant was a mere 23 years old and working as a tutor for law students when they became the youngest super-champ (or 10-day-plus winner) in history in 2022.

They graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in sexual diversity studies, political science, and women and gender studies. 

Mattea amassed 23 wins- the fifth-longest streak on Jeopardy! ever and sixth highest regular gameplay earnings of $566,000K.

Their $250,000 Masters win puts them around $810,000 of overall winnings.

Mattea won their first game on April 15, and exclaimed “all my student loans are paid off!” setting the tone for an unconventional yet quite captivating streak.

Critics knocked their stage presence seeing them openly voice their wager strategy and chat between clues.

One particularly memorable moment saw Mattea say with a signature wrist-flick, “I should have wagered more” after getting a Daily Double.

But as more wins came, so did the popularity – and there were some unforgettable games during their run.

One saw the champ answer Final Jeopardy alone on the stage with just Ken, due to a technicality.

The other two entered Final Jeopardy with negative scores, so they didn’t even compete.

“Has that ever happened before?” one fan wondered on Twitter at the time.

Mattea’s on-stage Q&A stories were also often the talk of the episode.

They revealed they once sang backup in a music video with the legendary musician of “Rick Roll” fame Rick Astley.

During another Q&A, they also revealed to have seven tattoos including two on their thighs dedicated to the band The Talking Heads.

Another game saw Mattea win by the amount ultimately losing by; $1.

Mattea now works as a podcaster and writer in Canada and is considering law school.

Mattea’s third stint followed the 2022 Tournament of Champions but they were summarily eliminated by Andrew He.


Mattea recently revealed they weren’t wagering on even making it on the game show, let alone becoming a success story.

They told CBC News: “I would not call myself a trivia pro at all,” they shared.

“I auditioned for the show basically on a whim because I was bored during Covid.

“I completely then did not do anything after doing my initial test to prepare for the eventuality of being on the show.

“Because the odds are just so long, right?

 “It didn’t occur to me that I should start prepping.”

Mattea shared that their winning strategy was: “Being a person who is genuinely curious and paying attention to the world around you.”

Jeopardy!’s boss also corroborated the jaw-dropping tidbit about Mattea after Masters, Mattea went in and has always gone into Jeopardy! cold.

“Mattea spends zero time, and has spent zero time ever practicing for this show.”

“They don’t learn trivia, they dont read trivia books, they dont sit on the floor in the children’s book department like James [Holzhauer- who famously studied children’s general knowledge books].

“Everything they know is from reading, sitting in front of the TV, reading newspapers, and being in front of intelligent people.”

Davies lauded: “Mr. and Mrs. Roach were so involved in that, and get so much credit in their broad liberal arts education.”

“It just shows their potential,” Davies added.

ABCWhen Mattea returned from Canada, filming resumed and they nearly won the whole $500K special[/caption]

Instagram/tiff_netMattea has ‘never prepared’ for Jeopardy! but only gone off their smarts and being raised in a knowledge-hungry household[/caption]

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