canadian Peril! champion Mattea Roach found herself at the center of an ownership dispute.
The 23-year-old Torontonian — or is he a Haligonian? – tutor had the eighth-longest streak in game show regular season history on Friday with 14 straight wins, and his fellow Canadians are taking notice.
“The people of Nova Scotia, and then also the people of Toronto – the two places I most associate with – have been very keen to claim me as belonging more to one than the other,” said said Roach, who spent the first six years of his life and part of his teenage years in Halifax.
“They don’t want to just pretend you’re from Canada if you’re from a particular city or province. It’s like, ‘No, she’s not just from Canada. She’s from Nova Scotia. Scotland, where she is in Toronto.” ‘
In fact, it belongs to both. Nova Scotia is home, she said after cracking the top 10 list this week, but she feels deeply connected to Toronto – the city she moved to to pursue a university degree in political science and sexual diversity studies.
Apologies to any Canadian in their twenties who this has happened to…if it helps you feel any better, my anecdote on the tn show is about my mom’s car crashing into a parking lot, so I’m also perfectly capable of disappointing my parents! https://t.co/6VRWf6ccGl
She also spent time in Calgary and Moncton, NB
But she understands the ‘very Canadian’ proclivity for ‘local celebrity’ pride and even commented on it in the quiz while referencing the long-running end Peril! host Alex Trebek.
Roach realized she had achieved national fame when she spotted an article about herself on the satirical website The Beaverton.
“That, even more than the genuine media interest, was like ‘Oh, I made it,'” she said.
It’s an interesting time to be a Canadian on Jeopardy!, an American show with undeniable ties to the North. The set for the show was dubbed the Alex Trebek Stage after its host from Sudbury, Ontario.
Roach expressed some disappointment that his star would star on the show following Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer in 2020.
“It’s a bit bittersweet and sad that [this streak] happens after his passing, and that he doesn’t have the opportunity to celebrate what is now by far the longest run by a Canadian contestant on the show,” Roach said.
Advantages, disadvantages of being Canadian on Jeopardy!
The show also tends to sprinkle in a few questions about Canada, and one of the editors, Billy Wisse, grew up in Montreal.
This gives Roach an edge in some cases, but she said the show’s Americanness can also trip her up at times.
Thursday night’s show, for example, featured an entire category on the state of California.
“I remember talking to someone from the Jeopardy team! And she was like, ‘Yeah, I was really confused as to why you weren’t calling or getting no of these clues. But then I remembered you weren’t from this country,” Roach said.
On Friday’s episode, Roach had earned US$320,081 on the show, placing her in 10th place for the highest regular season earnings. She also qualified for the Tournament of Champions this fall, when she will face some of the show’s most successful players. That includes 40-match winner Amy Schneider, whose streak ended in January, just before Roach filmed her first episodes.
“I’m so excited to probably lose to her,” Roach said.
For now, his family, friends and fans continue to cheer him on.
Historical race generating buzz
Longtime Jeopardy! viewer Terry Tomlin of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia said there was added excitement in supporting a candidate with a local tie.
He’s been watching the show for years with his wife and four children, but lately they’ve been “watching the edges of our seats in a panic every night.”
“There’s a deeper level of engagement when you identify more closely with the person,” Tomlin said Friday.
For those who know her personally, her success comes as no surprise.
“I always say she could have been on Jeopardy! when she was 10,” said Jason Church, Roach’s cousin.
He began advertising his performance on a printed sign outside the Cape Breton grocery store he owns.
Roach shared a photo of the sign on Twitter, describing it as “extremely Cape Breton behavior”.
In what I can only call a display of “extreme Cape Breton behavior” my mom’s cousin set him up at the grocery store he and my great aunt/uncle run in Marion Bridge – feeling incredibly supported!! Two more days ✨ pic.twitter.com/bORqgiOuvp
Church, who runs Church’s Valufoods in the Marion Bridge community, said it was an easy thing to do to support her cousin — and claim her.
“She was born in Halifax, but I call her a Cape Bretoner,” Church said, noting that her grandparents and cousins live on the island.
Since the start of his reign, Roach’s winning streak has been all customers want to talk about when they visit Church’s grocery store.
“It’s the first thing someone says when they walk through the door. They say, ‘Oh my God, your cousin is killing him.’ that she’s smarter than you?” Church said with a laugh.