'Jeopardy!' Champion Mattea Roach Pays Tribute to Their Father After He Died 'Very Suddenly'
The game show contestant got emotional while addressing their father’s sudden passing during an anecdote on Tuesday’s "Masters" semi-finals.
Jeopardy! star Mattea Roach took a moment to share a touching tribute to their late father, Phillip Roach.
On Tuesday night’s episode of Jeopardy! Masters, the 24-year-old game show contestant addressed their father’s sudden death after suffering from a brain aneurysm earlier this month. He was 57.
Roach, who uses they/them pronouns, grew emotional as they dedicated what “might be my last game of the series” to Phillip.
“In your very first appearance on Jeopardy!, we asked you what your most prized possession was,” said host Ken Jennings. “And you mentioned a denim jacket on extended loan from your dad, right?”
Related: 'Jeopardy!' Champion Mattea Roach's Father Dies of a Brain Aneurysm at Age 57
Mattea agreed, sadly noting that the jacket was now “on permanent loan.”
“Unfortunately, my dad actually passed away at the start of the month very suddenly,” they continued, adding that their dad was “a huge part of the reason why I’m here. He and my mom instilled an early love of geography in me. My dad taught me all about Turner Classic Movies and old music and all sorts of things.”
The Torontonian revealed that they were actually on set when they discovered their father’s passing. Though the news marked the “worst day of my life,” they thanked the other contestants and Jeopardy! producers for the outpour of support they received.
“I could not have asked for better support going through what is the worst day of my life pretty much so far,” Mattea explained. “Everyone who made sure that I did not have to continue playing. I was able to go home and be with my mom and my brothers.”
“My whole family is so thankful for everyone here at ‘Jeopardy!’ for helping us through this really difficult time,” they added.
Jennings, who was visibly moved by their tribute, choked up as he replied, “Speaking as a dad, I can only guess at how proud he must have been of you and I’m so glad he had the chance to see you play.”
Prior to taking the Jeopardy! Masters stage, Mattea took to Twitter to address their fans in the context of their father’s passing.
“In one of my contestant anecdotes on tonight’s Jeopardy! Masters, I’m talking about my dad. I’ve done this many times on the show before, but this time I’m speaking in past tense bc my dad died at the start of this month,” the statement began.
Related: Amy Schneider and Matt Amodio to Compete Against Other Champs in New' Jeopardy! Masters' Series
“I wanted to acknowledge my dad in the context of tonight’s game firstly bc he was the subject of the first ever contestant anecdote I ever told on Jeopardy,” they continued. “My thought had been that if I only ever got 30 seconds of time to talk on the show, I wanted it to be about him”
Roach shared that their fellow contestants were “beyond supportive in the moment” and production “moved mountains” in order to allow them to return home to their family and grieve their tragic loss.
“Lastly - this is my dad’s Reach for the Top (quiz bowl for Americans) team photo from 1983," they added alongside a throwback photo of him competing in a competition of his own. "Dad is seated in the flannel shirt. Everything I am doing on TV this week is for him ❤️”
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The Jeopardy! Masters tournament concludes Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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