Before I delve into this article, I will preface it with the following: I am not going to make the tiresome, clichéd comparison of stating that he is “the next Ken Jennings”, “the next Alex Jacob”, “the next Roger Craig”, etc. Given his astounding accomplishments during his two weeks-plus as the reigning Jeopardy! champion, he is the first James Holzhauer. In the 16 years of watching Jeopardy! on a regular basis, I have never anything as impressive as what this professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has achieved in such a relatively short period of time from obliterating Roger Craig’s $77,000 one-day record to breaking his own record a few games later.
Based on the sudden and surprising coverage of Holzhauer by ESPN, The Atlantic, CNN and The Dan Patrick Show, mainstream media outlets are as awestruck by his performance as I am. I haven’t seen this much extensive press coverage at Jeopardy! since Arthur Chu’s “controversial” championship run. Holzhauer, a former competitor on GSN’s The Chase and ABC’s 500 Questions, has amassed a mind-blowing $851,926 in his 12-day run, which makes him the second highest regular season winner. Interestingly enough, Holzhauer has adopted the same “Forrest Bounce” strategy to seek the Daily Doubles early and cash in on them to gain an early lead, which has made past champions successful including the aforementioned Chu and Chuck Forrest, the first champion to employ this tactic in 1985.
To put this in perspective, no other champion has come even close to Holzhauer’s running total at that point. With $411,000, Austin Rogers is the closest to reach that mark out of past champs who won their 12th game Here are some more remarkable statistics about his incredible run:
- 406 Correct Responses
- 16 Incorrect Responses
- 96.2% Accuracy
- Most correct responses in a single game – 42 (twice)
- Perfect games (Games w/ no incorrect response) – 3
- 32 correct including 3 Daily Doubles (Game 7)
- 40 correct including 2 Daily Doubles (Game 10)
- 39 correct including 3 Daily Doubles (Game 11)
- 25 Daily Double clues correctly answered (3 incorrectly answered)
- Total earned from correct Daily Doubles – $271,325
- Total lost from incorrect Daily Doubles – $13,200
- Most won from Daily Double – $25,000 (twice)
- Secured 11 “locked” games heading into Final Jeopardy!
- Ranked 1st-5th on Jeopardy’s list of largest 1-day totals (regular season)
- 1st – $131,127 (Game 10)
- 2nd – $110,914 (Game 4)
- 3rd – $106,181 (Game 9)
- 4th – $89,158 (Game 7)
- 5th – $80,006 (Game 12)
- Lowest 1-Day Total – $27,190
- Only 1 Final Jeopardy! clue answered incorrectly (Lost $3,010)
- Total won from correct Final Jeopardy! responses – $281,912
- Ranked 1st in most wagered and won in Final Jeopardy! (regular season) – $60,013 (Game 10)
- Reached $100,000 and $200,000-marks in a 3 and 4-day span
- Earned more than 16 previous champions combined
- In his fourth game, Holzhauer’s $110,914 total is significant because it is the date of his daughter’s birth (11/09/14).
Outside of the amazing All-Star Games tournament held a couple of months ago, James Holzhauer’s terrifying tear through the gauntlet of challengers is the highlight of Jeopardy’s 35th season. I believe it’s safe to say Holzhauer has solidified himself in the annals of game show and Jeopardy! history.
However, instead of attempting to predict whether or not he will surpass Ken Jennings’s 74-game streak – or even Julia Collins’s 20-game streak – or even reach the magnanimous $1 million or $2 million milestones, I’m going to simply sit back and enjoy his dominant and daring championship reign. Should he return to the show for the Tournament of Champions, his bold bids, rapid responses and impressively wide-depth of knowledge will be fun to watch to see if he can transfer his potent regular season game-playing abilities into the tournament spotlight.
Check your local listings and make sure you stay tuned for Jeopardy!
Statistics courtesy of J! Archive.