‘Danger!’ Champ Mattea Roach announces who will host

Who is: the better host?

Mattea Roach contributing to “Jeopardy!” Celebrity by becoming the first Gen Z mega champion has cast her vote on who should be the show’s permanent host between Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings. She’s also weighing the criticism she’s received about the way she’s playing the game.

“I would say Ken because of his history with the show,” the 23-year-old Toronto Vulture contestant said of her choice to replace longtime host Alex Trebek, who died in 2020. “As a contestant, there’s something really special about being on stage with the greatest player of all time. Someone who understands, in a very instinctive way, what it’s like to be in your position.

“Mayim is fantastic, but she doesn’t have the same experience,” Roach concluded.

Mattea Roach (middle) weighed up who she thinks should become the mainstay "Danger!" Hosts: Mayim Bialik (left) or Ken Jennings (right).
Mattea Roach (middle) weighed who she thinks should become the permanent Jeopardy! Hosts: Mayim Bialik (left) or Ken Jennings (right).
“Danger!”; AP

Due to Roach’s unique facial expression and thinking out loud during the game show, the devout “Jeopardy!” fans have also speculated that she’s doing this to distract other contestants.

“The notion that my comments would distract either the viewers or the players, I was like, ‘Huh?’ You don’t have time to think about weird mind games,” she said. “I would never want to intentionally distract another player because it’s so unsportsmanlike. I like to think it didn’t have that effect.”

People, Roach says, thought her strategy was too casual, saying, “She plays the same way she would play along on the couch at home.”

Mattea Roach on Jeopardy
After 22 wins in a row, Roach became the mega champion.

“I remember saying to a friend, ‘I’m not going to court. I’m not going to an interview. I’m going to a game show,'” she said. “Yes, it’s intellectual and that’s one of the special things about it. But I respected the institution by playing the game really well. I really enjoy it and that’s why I played the game like this.”

Roach has now made history in the show’s Hall of Fame after winning 22 straight games – making her the fifth-best player in history.

But even as a respected champion, her “strategy was poor,” she admitted nonetheless.

“I probably should have played a lot more strategically,” she added, saying she was playing with a “risk-aversion” tactic. “I would describe my strategy as loss minimization rather than profit maximization. I’ve never been one to buzz for clues and then think about the answer.”

But obviously something is working. She won $534,984 in prize money, which she will use towards her student loan payments.

“I will continue to be very boring with money,” she said. “I’ll be able to put up with most of this for a couple of years, and hopefully when I’m more settled in the longer term, I imagine it will help me buy a house.”

Mattea Roach
Roach said her competitive techniques shouldn’t distract other contestants — that’s just how she thinks.

She attributes her on-screen behavior, which has brought her both wins and negativity, to her youth and admits that she plays “very differently from what you’ve seen before” from previous contestants.

“Any time new people come of age, conversations ensue about how they are changing professional norms. It’s not entirely negative,” she said, adding that it will take time to get used to anything new or different. “But critical conversation about how I present myself on the show alludes to my behavior being somehow unprofessional or disrespectful to the institution.”

As valiant as her efforts are, she still has to defend her skills online and even take to Twitter to debunk viewers’ criticisms.

“Many have noticed my colorful facial expressions while playing Jeopardy.” She tweeted last week, along with a photo of her younger self at a spelling bee. “Here’s proof that I’m honestly getting by/making funny faces for a long time!”

In fact, her colorful expressions and gestures have also attracted fans. While they’ve received more hate than love, she revealed to Vulture that her “wrist received fan mail.”

“There are a lot of queer people who are fans of how I move my hands and body,” said Roach, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community. “I didn’t think of that when I recorded it, but it’s fun to see the support from this community.”

Regardless of how she’s perceived or how she plays the game, one thing is certain about Roach: she just wants to have fun.

“My experience recording the show has been among the funnest I’ve had in my entire life,” she gushed. “When I actually got on stage, I had the time of my life. I didn’t play any differently during my run. I already made side comments in my first game and let myself be animated.”

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