Call it irony, call it kismet, or call it astonishing luck, but it's pretty incredible that Jeopardy! was able to follow up this year's first-ever All Star Team Tournament by introducing a new champion whose reign could very well dwarf those of every single All Star. Jeopardy!'s latest winning streak belongs to Las Vegas resident James Holzhauer, who somehow managed a flawless game and totally obliterated his own previous record for single-day earnings.
The New Record
James Holzhauer has truly become a national celebrity in recent weeks, due to his fantastical Jeopardy! wins, and he doesn't seem to be on the verge of ending his historical streak any time soon. On Wednesday afternoon's telecast, Holzhauer dropped a lot of jaws on the Jeopardy! set by winning Final Jeopardy with a whopper of a total: $131,127.
For those keeping score, that's over $20,000 more than the previous single-day record, which James Holzhauer had only just set himself last week. The new record is a full $54,127 more than Roger Craig's $77,000 record that was set back in 2010. What's more, Holzhauer actually already topped the $77,000 total two other times during his ten-day stretch - with $89,158 and $106,181 - but those came after his initial record-breaking win.
So, at least for now, Holzhauer is the name next to four of the five biggest Jeopardy! wins in history, but it's likely only a matter of time before he secures that fifth spot for himself, knocking Roger Craig out of the top spot entirely. It'll be a somewhat sad thing to see, since Craig has become such a well-liked Jeopardy! vet, but it's hard to deny the desire to see James Holzhauer rise high enough to take down the game show's resident warlord champion, Ken Jennings.
The math is rather intimidating, but the possibility exists for James Holzhauer to continue winning to the point where he actually surpasses the total that Ken Jennings took in during his record-setting Jeopardy! win streak, $2.52 million. Currently at $697,787 and sitting pretty in the #2 slot, Holzhauer could (however improbably) keep up his $69,000+ average win total in order by bypass Jennings' total in just 16 more games.
It'll probably take him slightly longer, assuming he does do it, but he'd clearly accomplish it in far fewer than the 74 games it took Jennings. Now just imagine how much moolah Holzhauer could win in 74 games. (Note that Holzhauer would need a lot more money to beat Brad Rutter's overall winnings of $4.88 million, which includes winnings from various Tournaments and specials.)
That Flawless Game
It's obviously not an easy thing for any Jeopardy! champion to win as much money as James Holzhauer is, which is a big reason why he's the only one able to pull those victories off. Stunningly, the contestant makes it look easy at times, and his most recent record-breaking game was a masterclass in strategy and smarts.
Technically, a "perfect" Jeopardy! game would require a contestant to correctly answer all 60 regular and Double Jeopardy clues, as well as the two Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy. James Holzhauer didn't do all of that for Wednesday's game, but he did get 40 correct answers, along with the Daily Doubles, which brought him up to the super-impressive score of $71,114 going into the Final Jeopardy round.
The category was "20th Century Literary Characters," and the clue hinted at the name of one of the main characters in Harper Lee's iconic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. With the game already a runaway, James Holzhauer bafflingly wagered $60,013 on his answer of "Atticus Finch." He was correct, of course, and Jeopardy! history was made. Holzhauer, always looking for a chance to bring his family members into it, also gave a "thank you" shout out to his grandmother at the bottom of his answer.
The sky is the limit for James Holzhauer at this point. The sports gambler has capitalized on proven techniques used former champions such as Arthur Chu, Austin Rodgers and Brad Rutter. Rather than going through the clues sequentially, Holzhauer flies all over the board while seeking out the round's Daily Double clues, and that's when the champion really starts to shine.
Unlike how many players will be hesitant about betting too big when Daily Doubles come up, James Holzhauer puts his gambling mindset to work and routinely puts all, or the majority, of his current winnings on the line. The strategy has clearly worked out for him in spades, and it'll be interesting to see if his actions end up inspiring a new generation of risk-embracing Jeopardy! contestants.
Check out the official Jeopardy! video below celebrating James Holzhauer's victories.
Want to see how much money James Holzhauer ends up winning? Could he end up staying on the show longer than Alex Trebek? Tune into Jeopardy! every weekday in syndication. Be sure to check your local listings to see when and where the classic series is airing in your area.