Canadian Jeopardy! phenom Mattea Roach is seeking a 17th straight win on an episode airing Wednesday night.
Roach, who grew up in Halifax, extended her remarkable run Tuesday night on the TV quiz show.
She has the eighth-longest streak in the quiz show’s history. To move up the list, the 23-year-old will need 19 wins to tie with David Madden and Jason Zuffranieri.
After so many wins, Roach has proven she can conquer dozens of quiz clues with ease.
But in addition to displaying superior skill with the buzzer, the Toronto-based phenom has had to prepare for another challenge that can get harder with each win: coming up with engaging anecdotes for each TV episode.
Such are the lesser-known consequences of dominating Jeopardy! categories like Roach, whose 16 wins give her the show’s longest win streak by a Canadian.
Jeopardy! champion-turned-host Ken Jennings holds the record with 74 consecutive wins in 2004.
“It does get hard,” Roach said when reached by phone on the day of her 13th episode.
“I didn’t watch Ken’s run all the way through as a kid because I was like, five, six years old when it was happening but I’m sure that he must have really been scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end of it.”
These personal tidbits are typically featured after the first commercial break, when hosts Jennings or Mayim Bialik offer each contestant a few minutes to tell the audience about themselves.
Cross Country Checkup28:50Ask Me Anything: Mattea Roach on competing in Jeopardy!
In past episodes, Roach has regaled them with accounts of her first kiss, crashing her mom’s car in a parking lot and being spat on at a comedy show.
As long as she keeps winning, she’ll need more stories.
Roach said her parents have helped her generate material, but there’s a strategy to deploying these personal tidbits to best effect. When she first started appearing, she gave the show “deliberately boring and generic content.”
“I did not want to go on, play one game and then my anecdote in that game is something where I feel like I’m gassing myself up and telling a story about something that feels boastful,” she explained.
“But then after my first four shows, we had a break in taping and I remember texting the producer who handles the contestant anecdotes, and I was like, ‘I need to give you better material. Because the stuff that I sent you the first time is like, really boring. And I promise I’m more interesting than this.”‘
Roach said the show provides contestants with a sheet of questions with prompts to inspire stories. Her first was about her most prized possession — her dad’s jean jacket from the ’80s.
As of Tuesday’s game, Roach had collected a total haul of US$368,981.
She has also earned a spot in the show’s Tournament of Champions, set to air in the fall.