Contestant Matthew Jackson is slaying it on Jeopardy!, racking up over $200,000 in earnings over an eight-night win streak. He’ll try for nine on Wednesday night. And with all this hype, Jeopardy!, the quiz show where questions are answers, has got people asking, “Who is this Matt Jackson fellow?”
What first got the viewers attention was Jackson’s creepy slow-pan smile, which he consecutively flashes during the game show’s intro. “No it’s not slow motion, that’s his real smile,” wrote one Youtube member after posting a video titled, “And the award for creepiest smile goes to…” E Network’s The Soup even harped on the contestant’s awkward beam.
Charming in his gawkiness, the 23-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is the product of a biracial household, a white Jewish mother and a black Christian father. “My mother is white, liberal and Jewish, and my dad is black, Christian and conservative,” Jackson told Trebek, who responded with, “Whoa, hello!”
And the two bantered more in between rounds, with Jackson even gabbing about his family’s Passover seders (his mother must be so proud). “[My grandfather] didn’t just keep to his field. I remember at a Passover seder he tried to figure out who wrote the Torah and went on a long digression. He had a big collection of books. He got a computer, a PC, at a very early stage and taught me to use it.”
Whenever the spirited contestant gets a correct answer (of which, there have been so many that Trebek even asked Jackson to slow down), he’s made it “a thing” to drop a clenched fist into an open palm (think a sledgehammer motion or a courtroom gavel) and seal the action with the word, “BOOM.” One fan even went so far as to fashion a parody music video with his “BOOM” catchphrase.
Tune in tonight for slow-mo smiles and heartfelt “BOOMS” by our man, Jackson.
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Tess Cutler is an intern at Tablet.