SPOILER ALERT: This story contains some details about tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!
“I’ll take ‘Jeopardy! winnings’ for $2 million, Alex.” The answer is: James Holzhauer. The thirtysomething professional gambler from Las Vegas topped that lofty figure during today’s episode of the long-running syndicated quiz show. It was his 27th consecutive win.
It’s just the latest Jeopardy! milestone for Holzhauer, who has been a wrecking ball on the factoid competition show for nearly eight weeks. Since his first appearance on April 4, he has broken the all-time daily winnings mark multiple times — his best was $131,127 on April 17 — while sending scores of rival and likely embittered contestants home. Holzhauer has topped the daily $100k threshold five times.
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But he has yet to claim the Alex Trebek-hosted game show’s ultimate records for total winnings and most in an initial run — and he’s barely a third of the way to most wins. The latter two marks have been held since 2004 by Ken Jennings, the wunderkind who won 74 straight games en route to a $2.52 million haul. He also has added $1.12 million in various Jeopardy! tournaments during the ensuing 15 years. But Jennings is second in all-time winnings on the Sony TV-produced show to Brad Rutter, who has amassed $4.89 million between his first run 2000 and various tournaments through this year.
Rutter and Jennings have squared off in multiple Jeopardy! specials over the years, including when both lost to the IBM computer Watson in 2011. Jennings finished second over Rutter that time.
Meanwhile, there’s Holzhauer. Unflappable, mostly deadpan and generally stoical, he has dazzled viewers with his aggressive and unorthodox style of play. He likes to skip around the board looking for Daily Doubles and will bet big to pad his tally, even when the other contestants have a chance to catch him. Although generally poker-faced, he also tends to have a little fun with his Final Jeopardy! responses, including the one from today’s episode (see below).
Jeopardy! has taped several more weeks’ worth of episodes, so Holzhauer might ascend further among the game’s all-timers. And expect the producers to pit him against Jennings and Rutter at some point soon.
Here is Holzhauer’s typically restrained reaction to topping the $2 million mark:
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