In its 35th season, Jeopardy! fans around the world have been glued to their television sets for three straight weeks as James Holzhauer has dominated the popular game show, winning $1,691,008, second only to Ken Jennings.
The Chicago-born 34-year-old sports bettor and dedicated family man from Las Vegas became the second player in the show’s long history to win over a million dollars in regular-game play. And he’s just getting started!
Holzhauer made his debut on Jeopardy! on Thursday, April 4 and ever since, he’s been unstoppable. In the storied history of Jeopardy! no one had ever won more than $77,000 on a single show before James. Holzhauer crushed that record on April 9th, missing only one question, getting all three Daily Doubles – and capping it off with the largest Final Jeopardy wager ever. His total winnings that day were $131,127 — the highest single-game payout in Jeopardy!
If that wasn’t enough, Holzhauer says he decided to compete on Jeopardy! to fulfill a childhood promise that he made to his grandmother who he used to watch the show with when he was younger. His dedication to his family even extends to his winnings and he uses their birthdates to decide how much he wants to wager: Holzhauer strategically won $110,914 for example, because those are the numbers that make up his daughter’s birthday.
To say that Holzhauer has dominated Jeopardy! like no one before is not an exaggeration. He now holds the top seven spots on the all-time list of highest one-day winnings, and his current regular-season winnings surpass all but one player in the history of the show: Ken Jennings.
Ken Jennings rose to fame after an unprecedented run on Jeopardy! in 2004. Over the course of 74 episodes, he won a grand total of $2,520,700, shattering every Jeopardy! record at the time. No one since has lasted more than 20 games, and no one has come anywhere near as close to winning as much as him.
Holzhauer just won his 21st consecutive game, and while he still has a long way to go before breaking the two remaining records held by Jennings, his average daily take home is a massive $80,525, more than doubling what Jennings typically pulled. In other words, at this rate, Holzhauer will surpass Jennings 2.5 million by the end of the month. As Slate put it, “Holzhauer is like a cyborg constructed for the express purpose of winning at this ever-popular game.”
Here’s a breakdown of current Jeopardy! records:
Highest Total Jeopardy! Regular-Game Earnings:
1- Ken Jennings: $2,520,700
2- James Holzhauer: $1,691,008
3- David Madden: $430,400
4- Julia Collins: $428,100
5- Matt Jackson: $411,612
Highest Single-Game Jeopardy! Winnings:
1- James Holzhauer: $131,127 (April 17, 2019)
2- James Holzhauer: $118,816 (April 23, 2019)
3- James Holzhauer: $110,914 (April 9, 2019)
4- James Holzhauer: $106,181 (April 16, 2019)
5- James Holzhauer: $90,812 (April 22, 2019)
Most Consecutive Jeopardy! Games Won:
1- Ken Jennings: 74 games
2- James Holzhauer: 21 games
3- Julia Collins: 20 games
4- David Madden: 19 games
5- Matt Jackson: 13 games
Holzhauer’s success is attributed not just to his deep trivia knowledge, but also to his style of play. He’s made waves not just because of his success but also because of his betting strategy: As a professional sports gambler, Holzhauer has plenty of experience taking risks and he hunts down each Daily Double before anyone else has a shot and places huge bets with each. More often than not, Holzhauer often tacks on large sums with Final Jeopardy! wagers as well, and according to The Jeopardy Fan, Holzhauer is also quicker on the trigger. In fact, he’s able to beat the other contestants to the buzzer 57% of the time, leaving the other two contestants to fight for the remaining 43%. Meanwhile, Holzhauer is correct 97% of the time, and he’s right 93% of the time on Daily Double responses. As Holzhauer told USBets, “I think that proper strategy calls for aggressive wagering on Daily Doubles. I had no hesitation betting big when I needed to — and felt no extra pressure knowing how much was at stake — because I gamble all the time,” he said.
At the moment, Holzhauer seems unstoppable, and his stellar performances are drawing in more viewers. With the ratings for Jeopardy! said to be at an all-time high, Holzhauer is not just putting money in his own pockets but he’s boosting the popularity of the game show, thus translating to more lucrative ad sales for the network. Now we will just have to wait to see if he can beat the $2.5 million record held by Ken Jennings.
- Ricky D