Mattia Roach, 23 “Danger!” Champion, blew former competitor after competitor. Some games were nail-biting: in one, she defeated her opponent by only a dollar. But the LSAT teacher, a 2020 graduate of the University of Toronto, ended her streak on Friday, winning 23 straight games and earning $560,983 (plus a $2,000 consolation prize for her loss). She is among the most winning regular season players on the show – behind the likes of Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio and Amy Schneider.
Like Mr. Jennings, Mrs. Schneider and Arthur Chu before her, Ms. Roach achieved cross-country fame during her tenure on the show.
She drew attention from the movie “Jeopardy!” Fans are partly for her distinctive playing style: she tended to bet small amounts on Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy, for example.
But her style also catches the eye. Mrs. Roach makes gestures (and not just with her hands – her wrists are also interfering with the action, and It has become a topic of interest in social media).
All the “Danger!” Contestants answer in the form of questions, of course, but Ms. Roach got her response with an extra layer of talk. As she puzzled over her answers, she spoke aloud to herself—or was she directed at the host, or the audience at home? Her play can be quite casual. In the Final Jeopardy guide that ended her streak, she appended a lowercase letter “idk” (a slang word meaning “I don’t know”) to her scrambled and incorrect answer.
Ms. Roach was the most famous General Secretary on the show, and her fashion sense reflected her generation. She appeared in what might be called the heart of Merkel (as in the former chancellor of Germany): her signature look were bold boxy jackets.
Ms. Roach says her fame has come as a surprise.
“I don’t know there’s some kind of way to psychologically prepare for that kind of thing,” she said in an interview Friday when her streak ended. But nevertheless, she thought about what to wear.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Do you get a lot of appreciation on the streets?
I wasn’t home the whole time the games were being broadcast so I didn’t watch any of them with my parents in Nova Scotia. We drove to Cape Breton to see my grandparents yesterday and back to Halifax today. My mom and I stopped at this roadside restaurant. I was wearing a KN95 mask and one of the restaurant workers was like, “I recognize you by your earrings.” I swear it was like, 10 women came out of the kitchen, like clowns getting out of a clown car. They kept coming out to say hello.
How would you describe your personal style?
How can I describe it that can be printed in The Times… I’ll say it like this: I wear a lesbian. I saw a lot of tweets after my debut where I didn’t speak publicly, like, about my orientation or identity from people who were gay, like: We can say.
I definitely dress more masculine. I either wear completely neutral tones, or, if I were to wear something bright, it would be really flashy and 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 attacks Old Navy for all the horrible printed shirts I can find or goes to thrift stores for all the great Hawaiian dad shirts.
When you were thinking about your appearance on the show, what went through your mind?
I started digging the rabbit out a bit before the show. I realized that there is a file Twitter accountThat talks about what people wear on the show.
I was like, OK, I want to make sure I’m wearing something that I feel like I look good in. I was more concerned about feeling comfortable with what I was wearing.
I specifically bought a new item – a tweed jacket. Everything else was things I already had. Except for one time: I pulled off a black cardigan from the wardrobe, because I thought it was like, We need to wear another layer just so there’s something else going on. And obviously I wasn’t thrilled to pull a jacket out of the wardrobe, but it was fine.
You’ve worn the same pair of pants almost every game because you don’t see them – this pair of stretchy black palazzo pants from Zara. The only time I wear different pants has been two rings where I wear a jumpsuit.
Do you do a lot of negative shopping?
Most of the jackets I wore on the show were from vintage or used stores in Toronto—except for a smashed velvet jacket, which a friend gave me who was cleaning her wardrobe.
It’s easier to find quality parts at a reasonable price this way. I like the idea that it’s more sustainable.
I’m not a great value village – or a bona fide type shopper just because I don’t enjoy shopping very much. I find having to sift through a lot of clothes isn’t fun. So the places I go to tend to be places that have actually curated a select group.
Are you depop girl?
no IAM not like that. I tried to look around there. They do not have a large variety of sizes. A lot of times, I find that a lot of people would buy oversized things and then make two pieces of what used to be one shirt and I’m like, well, I can’t wear that.
It is clear that your financial situation has changed as a result of being on the show. Do you think your style will change with that?
I don’t know my style will change. I think I’ll probably feel a little more free to buy the more expensive pieces. I don’t even take Ubers, although I can totally afford it, because I hate spending money. So I don’t think I’ll suddenly go out and completely revamp my wardrobe.
I would probably take this opportunity to purchase and design at least one suit because this is something I think is very difficult to do, especially as a woman and it can be kind of expensive. I have never been able to find a matching two piece suit where both parts fit me.
Do you keep the jackets? Or have you already burned it?
No, I love my jackets, so why would I throw them away?
I saw you tweeting, “My identity is not related to how well I do on the show. But it does matter in that I am someone who is read as gay in real life because of the way I dress, talk to my body and other intangible factors.” How did you see that happen?
I want to make sure that if I’m only going to do this once, I do it in a way that I’m proud of.
I wasn’t really trying to moderate too much in the way I was talking. I knew I didn’t want to dress more femininely than I might just to look more like a hypothetical Central American who might not like the way I dress. I’m glad I came across as my authentic self because I could have maintained a certain image that wasn’t true with whom I overcame so many games.
I wasn’t thinking about it from the perspective of, “Oh, it’s going to be so important for people to see a gay guy on the show.” To the extent that I thought it was important, it mostly mattered to me.