“Jeopardy!” super champion Mattea Roach has announced the death of their father. Roach talked about the loss while competing on the May 23 episode of “Jeopardy! Masters.”
“My dad actually passed away at the start of the month very suddenly,” they told host Ken Jennings.
“He’s 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.”
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Roach, who is fifth all-time by winning 23 consecutive games and sixth in total prize money in regular season play with $560,983, felt compelled to let people know how much of an effect their father had and how the “Jeopardy!” family rallied by their side during “Jeopardy! Masters,” since he died during the show's taping.
“I wanted to, in what might be my last game of the series, really recognize the impact that he had on my life and also recognize I was actually here at set when my dad died,” Roach said.
“And everyone who was at production, my fellow contestants, I could not have asked for better support going through what is the worst day of my life, pretty much so far.
“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.”
Jennings passed along his condolences from the program.
“All of us here at ‘Jeopardy!’ are just heartbroken,” he said. “So sorry for your loss and, speaking as a dad, I can only guess at how proud he must’ve been of you and I’m so glad he had the chance to see you play.”
“Jeopardy!” fans were also quick to pass along their condolences.
"So sorry for your loss @mattearoach. Congrats on making the final. You’re dad would be proud," one person wrote.
"Mattea is so smart and lovely and I know their dad was so proud," another fan commented. "I am glad to hear they had their Jeopardy family to comfort them. My condolences."
"Mattea was brave to share this profound loss so soon and so publicly," someone else wrote. "As Ken said, as a dad I’d be incredibly proud of their accomplishments. My condolences to Mattea. It is very hard.
Roach also expounded on the loss of their father in a Twitter thread they posted May 23.
“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 wrote. “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 said seven episodes of “Jeopardy! Masters” had been taped before he died, with three more taking place after his death. Roach also said their dad got to watch the fourth episode in the studio.
“I’ll say this on TV tonight but I want to express it again here — I was at the set of Jeopardy when my dad died,” they wrote.
“Short of being at home with family, I cannot imagine a better place to be when receiving such horrific news.”
Roach will continue their run on "Jeopardy! Masters" during the finals that take place May 24 at 8 p.m. ET.
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: