EXCLUSIVE11-game "Jeopardy" champ Arthur Chu -- widely criticized for his cocky attitude and unorthodox playing style -- insists he's not such a bad guy in real life ... minus his unquenchable thirst for money.
Chu was out in NYC early Thursday -- a day after his "Jeopardy" reign came to an end -- and he told us, fans of the game show got the wrong impression of him ... just because he was an ambitious (and extremely successful) player.
Chu -- who won nearly $300,000 on the show -- said, "I don't think I'm a bad guy for trying to win money on Jeopardy. I might be a bad guy for other reasons, but that's for other people to decide."
As for what he plans to do with his massive check -- watch the video.