Skip to main content

Jeopardy's James Holzhauer Almost Takes A Loss As He Nears $2 Million In Winnings

Jeopardy James Holzhauer
(Image credit: Jeopardy! / CBS Television Distribution Screenshot)

Jeopardy! almost saw the end of an incredible run. The higher the stakes, the higher the drama, and there was a lot of it on the May 24 episode. James Holzhauer’s streak was almost broken as he neared $2 million in winnings. The intense moment of competition saw James Holzhauer face off with challenger Nate Scheffey.

James Holzhauer was trying to win his 26th game of Jeopardy! when it came down to the wire. Holzhauer came into Final Jeopardy in the lead. He led Nate Scheffey by $5,400. It all came down to this last clue:

In one account, this song began as directions written out for composer Billy Strayhorn to Duke Ellington’s Home in Harlem.

James Holzhauer and Nate Scheffey both got the answer correct with “What is Take the A Train.” While both answered correctly, Holzhauer ended up winning his 26th game. How did he do it? Scheffey wagered $10,000 on his answer. Holzhauer put $20,908 on his, which meant he wagered $10,908 more than Scheffey did. Hence, his victory.

With that, James Holzhauer won his 26th round of Jeopardy! by earning $52,108 compared to Nate Scheffey’s $35,800. Holzhauer did not pretend he was not concerned or relieved after the fact. He exhaled as he wiped his brow. The pressure came, and he won out. Holzhauer’s victory meant a win that put his total earnings less than $8,000 away from $2 million.

James Holzhauer has to win $500,000 more to tie Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy! record of $2.5 million. Jennings' outstanding feat was accomplished fifteen years ago in 2004. It took the current record keeper 74 games to win his record-setting amount. Holzhauer is now the second highest-earning winner of all time.

It has taken James Holzhauer less than half that time to challenge Ken Jennings’ number. Accordingly, Jeopardy! viewers have been riveted to see if he can pull it off. If he does break Ken Jennings’ record-setting winnings, will he break Jennings’ 74-game winning streak? Time will tell.

James Holzhauer's close call against Nate Scheffey was not his first since blazing his path to his current winnings. Seven games ago, Holzhauer barely won his 18th straight game. He won that round by less than $20. So, his latest margin of victory far exceeds that. A sign he is going in the right direction when it comes to close calls.

This is good news for Jeopardy! The show has been enjoying a hot streak in viewership. It and the millions of people tuning in definitely did not want to lose James Holzhauer. In the week of April 29, Jeopardy! averaged 13.28 million viewers per episode. The quiz show is far from over. Will James Holzhauer continue his winning streak?

Check your local listings to find out when Jeopardy! airs in your area. You can catch older episodes of the quiz show on Netflix, along with other content.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.