For anyone who loves celebrating a game show win streak, James Holzhauer's recent run on Jeopardy! was akin to just about any major sports dynasty. Sadly for the contestant and his growing fanbase, Holzhauer's final game came this week, as he lost out to new champ Emma Boettcher by a wide margin. Many across the country were shocked to watch it on Monday, although a video leak on Sunday had already spoiled the ending for many others.
Jeopardy! executive producer Harry Friedman was not a happy camper after hearing about that leak on Sunday. Understandably, he was looking forward to seeing the widespread responses the next day when everyone watched James Holzhauer fall just short of reaching Ken Jennings' $2.52 million record for non-tournament wins. Saying he couldn't name suspects outright, Friedman voiced his actionable thoughts about the video leaker:
We think we know where and who and how. [Jeopardy! will take] very, very, very appropriate [action].
What kind of action? That's left unsaid, but some form of legal dispute could potentially come from this if accusations are eventually brought up. TV breaches of this nature are nothing new in the Internet era, with Game of Thrones' final season getting pegged with several big leaks early on. However, it's certainly a rarity for that to happen with a game show clip. Such is the power of James Holzhauer.
The leaked clip made it onto YouTube on Sunday afternoon, but Harry Friedman told The Washington Post that it was already at 2,000 views by the time he caught wind of it. From there, the spread only got wider, with the clip getting shared on social media and covered by many news outlets.
Harry Friedman doesn't even understand why anyone would feel the need to put this particular clip online. In his words:
I feel bad for the viewers. It’s not fair. I’m not sure what’s gained by doing something like that, other than some malicious intent. It doesn’t really benefit anybody.
To the uninformed, a leaked Jeopardy! clip might not sound like it would affect a whole lot of viewers. But take into account the fact that weeks' worth of James Holzhauer's run on Jeopardy! were bringing in bigger live TV audiences than Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory, and was also winning out in the key 18-49 demographic. So, in a sense, the video clip in question could go down as one of the biggest TV snafus of 2019.
To bring a positive spin on things, producer Harry Friedman says that he's also grateful that nothing about James Holzhauer's epic Jeopardy! run had come out online prior to the clip from his final game. Considering game show audiences aren't legally bound to keep quiet about what goes on, and are only asked to keep quiet as bound by the honor rule, it's indeed impressive that news of Holzhauer's demise stayed under wraps until one day prior.
It's likely that many who stumbled upon the clip on Sunday were in disbelief over what they were watching, since James Holzhauer seemed legitimately destined to become the grand master of Jeopardy! who could bridge the summer gap between Season 35 and Season 36. He was less than $60,000 away from surpassing Ken Jennings as the show's highest earner in regular play, and it seemed like no one could take him down.
His uncharacteristically low wager in Final Jeopardy also made it seem like the entire episode was just a shared fantasy/nightmare. Fans were used to watching James Holzhauer dish out high-end five-figure wagers, even when the game was a runaway, so long as he would still come out ahead if he got the wrong answer.
Not that he got answers wrong very often. Holzhauer was correct in his last Final Jeopardy, and he only ever got one of those incorrect. On the whole, he managed to answer around 97% of his questions correctly.
Though it will be with new winners until James Holzhauer returns for the Tournament of Champions, Jeopardy! airs in syndication every weeknight, so check your local listings to see when and where.