In the opening weeks of the 32nd season of the game show Jeopardy!, a 23-year-old paralegal from Washington named Matt Jackson caught the attention of America with a 13-show winning streak. The spectacle came to an end Wednesday with Jackson having accumulated $411,612 in winnings, according to Mashable. Jackson’s record places him fourth among top regular season Jeopardy! winners in the history of the show.
Jackson also proved that he is a man of integrity. At one point he had been scored correctly, when in fact he was wrong. The misunderstanding arose because it involved the use of short, similar sounding words.
“Kudos to our champion, Matt Jackson, who, during the commercial break, informed our judges that in that two word ‘a’ category, a few minutes ago, he did not mispronounce au… he meant to say al, ‘a-l’. So we are deducting $1,600 from him,” Alex Trebek can be seen in Jeopardy! footage.
Matt Jackson can be seen ripping through Jeopardy! questions at a pace that starts to get ahead of Trebek at one point.
Jackson was reported have entered Wednesday’s final with a slim $200-lead over a travel editor from New York named Michael Baker.
“For its 50th anniversary in 2012, the roof of this landmark was temporarily repainted its original color, Galaxy Gold,” was the final Jeopardy! clue. None of the contestants knew that it was Seattle’s Space Needle. Matt Jackson, as is his style, bet heavily. The move proved to be his downfall as Michael Baker was more conservative with his wager, sealing his win and bringing Jackson’s long streak to an end.
After Matt Jackson’s 12th win, Jeopardy! offered up some analysis of his dominance and playing style.
After 12 shows Jackson had answered 351 questions and given 338 correct replies; a 96.3 percent correct response rate.
Jeopardy! also notes Matt Jackson’s “dogged pursuit of the most valuable clues,” shows that as well as possessing a seeming encyclopedic amount of knowledge that he is a seasoned strategist. In the first 12 shows it was reported that Jackson only got three of 27 “Daily Double” questions wrong. Daily Double clues were always firmly in his sights.
The game show describes Matt Jackson’s style as “fast cash and big leads,” which sounds pretty aggressive. Jackson spoke of initially risking more than what his human naturally “risk-averse brain” would normally be comfortable with in the situation, because it would be the best strategic move. Jackson also explained that when forced, he has a good statistical track record of being able to come up with the right reply.
Jackson further describes that “big misses” with Daily Doubles can be overcome later in matches, but that not letting a big miss interfere with confidence in continuing play is of paramount importance.
Matt Jackson spoke of what he described as a “big-wager default” and the Jeopardy! website seemed to suggest that future show participants should take note.
Beating out Matt Jackson on the Jeopardy! all-time biggest winner list are Ken Jennings, Dave Madden, and Julia Collins.
“You can’t put a price on integrity. Good man Matt Jackson,” YouTube user Mighty-Scoosh wrote.
When he was preparing to compete on Jeopardy!, Jackson reportedly turned off his Facebook account, and reduced his social activities significantly, according to the Jeopardy! website. The website cites preparation as being “vital” in the success of any endeavor.
When asked about books he read to help him train for the rigors of his Jeopardy! appearances, Matt Jackson cited Brainiac by Ken Jennings and Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris. Jackson also watched many old Jeopardy! shows and practiced “buzzing-in” to get a feel for what the motion is actually like. The “buzzing-in” practice is cited by Alex Trebek as being key for all Jeopardy! contestants.
[Feature Screenshot Courtesy Play Jeopardy / YouTube]