James Holzhauer Finally Lost On Jeopardy, Here's How It Happened

james holzhauer jeopardy cbs
(Image credit: CBS)

Spoilers ahead for the June 3, 2019 episode of Jeopardy.

Jeopardy has been making all kinds of headlines in recent weeks, and for more uplifting reasons than Alex Trebek's diagnosis earlier this year. Contestant James Holzhauer has been setting and breaking records despite some close calls since he made his Jeopardy debut back in early April. His run on the game show seemed downright unstoppable... up until the June 3 broadcast that saw his winning streak finally come to an end. Here's what led to his defeat.

Oddly enough, James Holzhauer lost when he did the opposite of what he has said gave him an advantage over his opponents: he bet low. His decision not to wager a huge sum of money cost him the chance to keep going on the game show and perhaps beat the record set by Ken Jennings back in 2004. Holzhauer lost to contestant Emma Boettcher in the Final Jeopardy round of the episode that aired June 3.

In the Final Jeopardy round, the contestants had to answer "Kit Marlowe" for their wagers to go in their favor, and all three actually did get the question correct. The fateful moment came with the reveal that James Holzhauer -- with a total of $23,400 -- had only bet $1399 in Final Jeopardy, bringing his total up to $24,799.

That $24,799 was lower than Emma Boettcher's pre-Final Jeopardy total of $26,600, meaning that she would have to get the question wrong and lose an ideal amount of money for James Holzhauer to continue his streak. Unfortunately for him but awesomely for her, she got the question right and bet enough for the grand totals to not be even close. Holzhauer's total was $24,799, contrasted with Boettcher's $46,801 after she bet $20,201.

It's worth noting that even if James Holzhauer had bet his entire sum of $23,400 in Final Jeopardy and gotten the question correct, he still would have come behind Emma Boettcher, although only by $1. If everything had gone as well as possible for Holzhauer without taking away Boettcher's correct answer, he still would have lost. It's a bummer for Holzhauer, but congrats to Boettcher!

James Holzhauer fell a little over $56,000 short of beating Ken Jennings' record of $2.52 million. Holzhauer does have the bragging rights of making money in far fewer games than Jennings did, as Jennings took 74 games to finalize his record. Still, the Twitter feud between the two Jeopardy greats may have to come to an end now that Holzhauer is out of the game.

While the news of James Holzhauer's defeat undoubtedly came as a shock to a whole lot of viewers, some found out sooner than others. The clip of Holzhauer losing in Final Jeopardy leaked on the day before his last episode aired, clueing fans who keep up with Jeopardy news in to the fact that his history-making run was about to come to an end.

Jeopardy is hardly the only highly-rated show to experience leaks and spoilers in recent months, but this was still a very big twist to hit the web early. Still, I'm guessing the numbers for James Holzhauer's final episode as Jeopardy champ will be impressive.

Will Emma Boettcher be the next champion to experience a long run on Jeopardy? Only time will tell. New episodes of the show run in syndication on weeknights, and we can only hope that Alex Trebek will remain on board as host for years to come.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.