Mattea Roach, the “Jeopardy!” 23-year-old champion, beating competitor after competitor. Some of the games were biting: in one, she beat her opponent for just a dollar. But the LSAT tutor, a 2020 University of Toronto graduate, ended her streak on Friday, winning 23 straight and earning $560,983 (plus a $2,000 consolation prize for her loss). She’s among the series’ winningest regular-season players — second only to Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio and Amy Schneider.
Like Mr. Jennings, Ms. Schneider, and Arthur Chu before her, Ms. Roach achieved crossover fame during her tenure on the show.
She caught the eye of “Jeopardy!” fans in part for her distinctive style of play: she tended to bet small on Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy, for example.
But his manner also attracts attention. Mrs. Roach gesticulates (and not just with her hands — her wrists also participate in the action, and have become the subject of social media attention).
All “Jeopardy!” the candidates respond in question form, of course, but Ms. Roach clinched her response with an added layer of bullish talk. As she considered her answers, was she speaking out loud to herself — or was it directed at the host or the audience at home? His game could be disarmingly casual. On the Final Jeopardy clue that ended her streak, she added a lowercase “idk” (textual slang for “I don’t know”) to her scribbled, incorrect answer.
Ms. Roach was the most high-profile Gen Zer to appear on the show, and her fashion sense reflected her generation. She appeared in what might be called Merkel-core (as in the former German chancellor): Her signature look was bold, boxy blazers.
Ms Roach says her fame came as a surprise.
“I don’t know if there’s a way to psychologically prepare for this stuff,” she said in an interview Friday at the end of her streak. But still, she thought about what she was wearing.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Are you widely recognized on the street?
I hadn’t been home the entire time the games were broadcast, so I hadn’t watched any with my parents in Nova Scotia. We drove to Cape Breton to see my grandparents yesterday and drove back to Halifax today. My mom and I stopped at this roadside restaurant. I was wearing a KN95 mask and one of the women working in the restaurant said to me, “I recognize you by your earrings. I swear it was like 10 women coming out of the kitchen, like clowns coming out of a clown car. They kept coming over to say hello.
How would you describe your personal style?
How can I describe it that can be printed in The Times… I’ll just put it this way: I dress like a lesbian. I saw a lot of tweets after my first appearance where I hadn’t really spoken publicly about my orientation or my identity from queer people, who were like: We can say.
I definitely dress more masculine; I either wear all-neutral tones or, if I have to wear something bright, it’s going to be really garish and really loud. Even when I go to an event, I want to be comfortable.
If you see me during the summer, I’m one of those people who raid Old Navy for all the terrible printed shirts I can find or go to thrift stores looking for all the great Hawaiian shirts.
When you thought about your appearance on the show, what went through your mind?
I started digging rabbits a little before the show. I realized that there is a Twitter accountt that talks about what people are wearing on the show.
I was like, OK, I want to make sure I’m wearing something that I feel good in. I was much more concerned with feeling comfortable with what I was wearing.
I bought precisely a new item – a tweed blazer. Everything else was things I already owned. Except for one time: I wore this black cardigan that came from the wardrobe, because I think they were like, you have to put on another layer just for something to happen. ‘other. And I obviously wasn’t thrilled to have to wear the wardrobe cardigan, but it was okay.
I wore the same pair of pants almost every game because you don’t see them – this pair of black stretch Palazzo pants from Zara. The only time I wore different pants was two episodes where I wore a jumpsuit.
Do you do a lot of flea markets?
Most of the blazers I wore on the show came from vintage or thrift stores in Toronto, except for one in crushed velvet, which was given to me by a friend who was cleaning out her closet.
It is easier to find high quality parts at a reasonable price this way. I like the idea that it’s more durable.
I’m not a big Value Village or Goodwill type shopper simply because I don’t like to shop too much. I find the process of having to sift through a lot of clothes just not pleasant. So the places I go tend to be places that have already curated a selection.
Are you a Depop girl?
No I’m not. I tried to look there. They don’t have a wide variety of sizes. A lot of times I find that a lot of people maybe buy oversized clothes and then they make a two-piece out of what used to be a shirt and I’m like, well, I can’t wear that.
Obviously, your financial situation has changed as a result of your participation in the show. Do you think your style will change with this?
I don’t know if my style will change. I think I’ll probably feel a little more free to buy more expensive parts. I don’t even take Ubers, even though I can totally afford it, because I hate spending money. So I don’t think I’m going to go out all of a sudden and completely revamp my wardrobe.
I’ll probably take the opportunity to buy at least one costume and have it tailored because I think it’s something that, especially as a woman, is quite difficult to do and can get quite expensive. I have never been able to find a two piece matching suit where both parts fit me.
Do you keep the blazers? Or have you ever burned them?
No, I love my blazers, why get rid of them?
I saw you tweeting, “My identity is irrelevant to my performance on the show. But it’s relevant in that I’m someone who is considered queer in real life because of how I dress, how I speak with my body, and other intangibles. How did you see this unfold?
I want to make sure that if I’m only doing this once, I’m doing it in a way that I’m proud of.
I wasn’t really trying to moderate how I spoke in any major way. I knew I didn’t want to dress more feminine than I otherwise would just to look more presentable to a hypothetical person in Central America who might not like the way I dress. I’m glad I presented myself as my authentic self, because it would have been a lot of steam for me to maintain a certain image that wasn’t true to who I am on so many matches.
I didn’t think of it in terms of, “Oh, it’s going to be so important for people to see a queer kid on the show.” Insofar as I thought it mattered, it mattered mostly to me.
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