In the grand pantheon of TV game shows, none rests on a higher dais than Jeopardy!. It is the alpha. The almighty. The beginning and the end. And in the show’s grand court of Kings and Queens, none has ridden in more dominantly than 32-day champion James Holzhauer, who throughout his historic run has reaped previously unthought-of rewards and redefined the parameters of the game itself possibly forever.
And he just fucken ate shit.
For those of you not up to speed with what’s been going on the past two months, Holzhauer is not so much a Jeopardy! champion as he is a buzzsaw-shaped encyclopedia, mowing his way through hapless rival contestants with scant regard for their safety. He is the hot knife that keeps butter awake at night. He is a trivia hurricane ripping roofs off of smart people’s houses. He is a fact-filled possessed truck and Jeopardy! is his Maximum Overdrive.
And he just, and I cannot stress this enough, got his ass absolutely handed to him.
Holzhauer’s unprecedented run on Jeopardy! came to an unexpected screeching halt today, 33 episodes into his streak, at the hands of a librarian from Chicago named Emma Boettcher.
Leaked footage from the episode confirmed the long-awaited loss earlier this morning, with Holzhauer entering an uncharacteristically low bid on Final Jeopardy, handing the win to Boettcher.
Spoiler Alert: James Holzhauer's Jeopardy run comes to an end (alleged leaked footage). pic.twitter.com/xNDeBAcDfV— The Greek Sportsbook (@WagerStreet) June 3, 2019
That ends Holzhauer’s remarkable streak at 32 games, with a final winnings total of USD$2,464,216 (AUD$3,535,150). Crucially, that’s just $56,484 (AUD$81,032) shy of Ken Jennings‘ all-time Jeopardy! record that has stood since 2004; a total that took Jennings 75 games to accumulate. At an average daily total of US$74,673 (AUD$107,119), Holzhauer far outstripped the estimated earnings of host Alex Trebek during his time on the show, who commands a reported US$43,000 (AUD$61,684) per episode.
Of the Top 20 highest single-day totals in Jeopardy! history, Holzhauer now owns 18 of them. The top 16 are his and his alone, including the all-time record of $131,127, nearly double the previous mark of $77,000 set by Roger Craig in 2010. A total that, at the time, was thought to be untouchable.
Holzhauer accrued money at an insane speed because of his gamblers mentality: A sports bettor by trade, Holzhauer aggressively built cash stacks in early gameplay before targeting Daily Doubles and betting big. His strategy was so ruthlessly effective that in his 33 appearances on the show, only 4 weren’t complete runaways by the time they got to Final Jeopardy.
In today’s losing effort, Boettcher managed to beat Holzhauer at his own insane game: By nabbing both Daily Doubles in the Double Jeopardy round, thereby preventing Holzhauer from leaving everyone else in the dust, and sending him into Final Jeopardy trailing for the first time in his historic run.
The rub here? Holzhauer was so good with numbers that he knew his only hope was Boettcher getting Final Jeopardy wrong, so he only bet $1,399. Enough to keep him in second place and score him $2,000, instead of the measly $1,000 for third. Because when you’ve ran through Jeopardy! for two months like a case of the trots, a measly one thousand dollars still absolutely matters.
Throughout his run, Holzhauer relished in his rocketing fame, toying with fans on social media and even invoking the Drake Curse earlier this morning before the pre-taped episode aired.
But as for his historic loss, he spoke to the New York Times and exhibited no ill will, asserting “Nobody likes to lose. But I’m very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show. So I don’t feel bad about it.”
And of the gunslinger who finally put him down, he remarked “I lost to a really top-level competitor. She played a perfect game. And that was what it took to beat me.“
That’s some GOAT-level, 6-ring, hang-the-jersey-in-the-rafters shit, right there.
The streak is over. James Holzhauer has lost. Elvis has left the building.