Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa becomes a 'Jeopardy!' clue

The infamous tale of Philly sports fans still has many asking questions - even on "Jeopardy!"

ByBrock Koller WPVI logo
Monday, August 2, 2021
'Jeopardy!' brings up that Santa snowball Eagles game
It was a clue that no Philadelphia Eagles fan would get wrong, but hoped everyone else would not know the correct response.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- What's Eagles?

That question could be referring to many things.

It could be, if speaking about the 'bald' variety, a bird with a snowy-feathered head and white tail and a national symbol of the United States.

It could be a band whose hits include "Hotel California," "Take It Easy" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling."

It could be a team that defeated the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl LII.

But once in a while, like on 'Jeopardy!' this past Friday, Eagles refers to snowballs and Santa.

The oft-repeated Philly anecdote, especially during national sports broadcasts, reared its head into America's favorite quiz show.

The Eagles clue, which was more about snowballs than snowy-feathers which we'd prefer, popped up during the first round under the category of "Fowl Balls."

It was the $200 clue, but was selected last in the category.

The clue read:

"On Dec. 15, 1968 there was no 'Brotherly Love' as this NFL home team's fans booed Santa & pelted him with snowballs"

"What's Eagles?" reigning Jeopardy! champ Matt Amodio responded.

"Philadelphia Eagles. Right," guest host LeVar Burton emphasized.

The Santa Saga

The Santa-snowball story has been used as evidence for anyone trying to portray Philadelphia sports fans in a poor light.

The story behind the myth involves a man named Frank Olivio and Eagles fans watching a team that started the season with 11 straight losses.

FILE: Frank Olivo, known as the Santa who was booed and dodged snowballs during halftime at a 1968 Eagles game, is shown in his home office in Media, Pa., January 2005.
AP Photo/Mike Mergen

It was the final game of the season.

According to reports, the original Santa Claus was supposed to be making his way from his home in New Jersey to Franklin Field for a halftime show. But he did not show up because of the snow.

Olivio, an Eagles season ticket holder, came to the stadium dressed in Santa garb, so an Eagles employee spotted him and asked if he'd fill in.

As ESPN reported in 2011:

"The instructions were simple: When the song 'Here Comes Santa Claus' started, that was his cue to walk through a column of cheerleaders and the Eagles' orchestra from one end zone to the other, then head back along the track."

When he made it to the track though, complete with an equipment bag acting as his Santa sack, the fans had enough. They booed, as they were doing beforehand, and began throwing snowballs at the fill-in Santa.

"Olivo wasn't angry at the fans, and tried to have fun with it. He was one of them. He understood their angst. When he spotted one man who'd just fired a snowball and missed, he yelled, 'You're not getting nothing for Christmas!'" ESPN reported.

Olivio had a chance to return the following year to play Santa, but told ESPN that if it didn't snow, he'd be worried "the fans would resort to throwing beer bottles instead."

Olivio passed away in 2015 at the age of 66 after a long battle with heart disease and diabetes, his family said.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, who was at the game, called Olivo "a good sport and a great Eagles fan" who is "indelibly etched in Philadelphia sports history."

ESPN took a deeper look into the story in a 2019 podcast called "When Eagles Fans Booed Santa: The Notorious True Story."

What's 'Jeopardy' Champ?

As for Matt Amodio, he got the correct response, although he did not ask it in its complete form a "Jeopardy!" contestant usually would: "Who are the Philadelphia Eagles?"

But that's been his modus operandi since the start.

Amodio favors the question word 'What' above all others, even if the response warrants a 'Who.'

Take for example in this episode:

The clue: "Zadie Smith's 'On Beauty' is modeled on this author's 'Howards End'"

His response: "What's Forster?" instead of the expected "Who's Forster?" (E.M. Forster)

He also buzzed in with "What's Holmes?" for Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and "What's Frost?" for Robert Frost.

In a bit of irony, the Final Jeopardy! category was Comedy & Sports and the clue was "These are 2 of a reporter's 5 W's that are not on the baseball team in Abbott & Costello's 'Who's on First?'"

While Amodio did phrase this response in the form of a question with "What is," he got it incorrect, as did the other contestants. The correct response was "What is when and where?"

But his use of the "What's" has paid off. Amodio won the game, walked away with an eight-day total of $291,200 and will return for another show.

What's next?


ESPN & The Associated Press contributed to this report.