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Who Really Won Jeopardy! Masters?

It takes more than encyclopedic knowledge to win the hearts of America.
  • Andrew He, Mattea Roach, and Sam Buttrey in Jeopardy! Masters (Photo: ABC/Christopher Willard)
    Andrew He, Mattea Roach, and Sam Buttrey in Jeopardy! Masters (Photo: ABC/Christopher Willard)

    Jeopardy! Masters tried its best to keep things interesting for viewers. The mega-tournament introduced a new format for Daily Doubles, allowing viewers at home to see where the multipliers were on the board before each round. It was a noble attempt at engaging audiences more, keeping them on their toes as the current Jeopardy! champions moved closer or further away from each during crucial moments in the game. But ultimately, it didn’t solve one of the tournament's biggest problems: Everyone competing is very, very good at trivia.

    In Jeopardy! Masters, there’s almost no question that someone on stage will know the answer to every single question asked — it’s not a matter of if the question will be answered, but by whom. And because of that, there’s no longer an element of surprise when someone gets a particularly difficult answer correct, no real underdog to root for or frontrunner who is clearly a marvel. When it comes to pure skill, anyone could take home the top prize and would be completely deserving of it.

    But a parallel competition has been unfolding alongside the main event. It’s no longer just about knowing the most, but being the most — the players’ personas are just as important as their skills. Jennings rose to popularity not just because of his prowess in the game, but because of his charm and wit. He bantered with Alex Trebek, started a podcast, and eventually became the host of Jeopardy! himself. Despite some stumbles along the way — he’s been called out for insensitive tweets in the past and recently caught backlash for crossing the WGA picket line — he still set a precedent for the path forward as a Jeopardy! personality. And if anything, Jennings’ indiscretions make an even stronger case for someone new to step up and become the new face of Jeopardy!.

    James Holzhauer may have emerged victorious on Wednesday night, but in Jeopardy! Masters was never just about who would take home the most money — it was about who made the best bid to become America’s next trivia-savvy sweetheart. With that in mind, we're prepared to declare our own Jeopardy! Masters winner, and hand out some fun superlatives along the way.

    James Holzhauer, The 'Love to Hate 'Em' Master

    No one has ever wanted Jennings’ job more than James Holzhauer. In fact, he wants it too much. The combination of his podium doodles, final Jeopardy! jokes, all-too-memorized bits, attempted barbs at Jennings, and physical props all amount to a try-hard who isn’t even really mean enough to live up to his self-proclaimed title of “game show villain.” And Holzhauer has already gotten his chance to ride the Jeopardy! wave into another spotlight as one of the trivia experts or “chasers” on ABC’s The Chase. It’s time for him to stop chasing this particular trivia king crown.

    Matt Amodio, Most Humble King

    Matt Amodio seems like a perfectly nice man. He’s there to play the game and play it well, but ultimately shies away from the spotlight. He gets in a handful of jokes and shares his passion for all levels of academia, remaining humble throughout his run. It’s an admirable trait, but not necessarily a star-making one.

    Andrew He, The One Most In It to Win It

    Andrew He is in the zone. He’s here for one thing and one thing only: to prove his mental mettle. During Game 10, he revealed that he rushed straight from one of his Jeopardy! Masters games to the hospital where his son was born. It’s an endearing moment that won over the crowd and accounts for his low-energy play — he had bigger things on his mind. But as heartwarming as it may be, it didn’t make him stand out as the most vivacious player.

    Amy Schneider, Miss Congeniality

    Amy Schneider has embraced her celebrity status since becoming one the game’s biggest winners back in January 2022. She delights in bantering with Jennings and is unafraid to rib her fellow contestants as well. She’s there to win, sure (who isn’t), but isn’t so competitive that she goes full Holzhauer. Schneider will always be a welcome addition to Jeopardy! legacy tournaments to come, a potential successor to Jennings as occasional host.

    Mattea Roach, Most Likely to Continue to Succeed

    It might not be the Masters title, but Mattea Roach wins best dressed by a mile — their collection of suits and shirts in varying colors and patterns, not to mention their bolo ties, gold chains, and septum ring, bring a splash of style to each episode. They make their point-of-view clear from the start: They’re a Canadian Gen Zer who’s just delighted to be here. Their presence is a breath of fresh air and a great sign of what to expect from the next generation of Jeopardy! champions.

    Sam Buttrey, Ultimate Winner

    Sam Buttrey has his own catchphrase, “Bring it!,” that was adopted by even the grumpy Holzhauer. He has an arsenal of nicknames for Ken Jennings at his disposal, unafraid to drop a casual “K-Jenz” or “K-Dawg.” He speaks with a booming, jovial voice that commands attention, and uses it to display impeccable comedic timing, both in his anecdotes and in between questions during gameplay. Buttrey is, as the internet has confirmed, father. Move over, Jennings. This is Buttrey’s domain now.

    All Jeopardy! Masters episodes are streaming on Hulu. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Jeopardy! Masters, Jeopardy!, Amy Schneider, Andrew He, James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, Sam Buttrey