A month after he shattered the single-day cash winnings record on Jeopardy, James Holzhauer wowed AGAIN by winning more than two million dollars! As he continues to rack up the cash, get all the info on this game show sensation.
Update (5/24/2019): James Holzhauer, 35, finally passed the $2 million mark on Jeopardy. He has earned $2,065,535 on the game show over a span of 27 days, as of May 24, according to the Chicago Tribune. The professional gambler just needs $500,000 more to break Ken Jennings’ record winnings of $2,520,700.
Update (4/24/2019): After 14 days, James Holzhauer’s total winnings have topped $1 million. He pulled in $118,816 on the episode that aired on April 23, bringing his total earnings to $1,061,554. He’s only the second person to bring in over $1 million in regular-season games. The first, Ken Jennings, won $2,520,700 during a 74-game winning streak. “Despite what ‘The Social Network’ says, $1 million felt really cool,” Holzhauer said in a statement, per CNN. At this rate, James will easily smash Ken’s record in nearly half the time.
Original: Just picture Alex Trebek saying the following. “This contestant broke the record for most money won during a single episode of Jeopardy on April 17, a record he set himself a week before.” If you answered with “Who is James Holzhauer,” you’d be correct. The 34-year-old took home $131,127 on Wednesday, thus breaking the record he set a week before when he won $110,914. It was his 10th straight victory, and his overall winnings now amount to $697,787. He’s only second to Jeopardy icon Ken Jennings, who won $2.5 million during his legendary 74-day winning streak. As James continues his seemingly unstoppable run to the top, here’s what you need to know about him:
1. He’s a professional gambler from Las Vegas. James grew up in Naperville, Illinois, according to Heavy.com, where he developed a competitive spirit and a love for games. He reportedly helped lead the Naperville North High School to a first-place finish in the Illinois State Finals Academic Challenge. James has turned his talents and skills into a lucrative career as a competitive bridge player. In 2016, he moved to Las Vegas to become a professional sports gambler.
2. This isn’t the first time he was on a game show. This record-shattering run on Jeopardy is not the first time the game show world has gotten a look at James. He appeared on The Chase in 2014, an adaptation of a British game show. “I think being on ‘The Chase’ made me better prepared for the pressure of the cameras and lights, and it boosted my confidence going in to ‘Jeopardy!’ since I knew I was capable of winning on a big stage,” he told The Naperville Sun.
3. His wife was also on a game show. James’s spouse, Melisa Holzhauer, won $28k during an appearance on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2014, according to Heavy.com. The money must have bought a lot of diapers, as he and Melissa have a 4-year-old daughter.
4. He has a distinctive playing style. “My theory is that you need to be betting very aggressively on Daily Doubles and in Final Jeopardy,” James told Vulture. “I guess I’d call it strategically aggressive. I didn’t model my strategy after anyone in particular. My basic thoughts going in were, ‘Okay, I want to have some money before Daily Doubles, and if this helps take my opponents off [their] game, that’s just a bonus.’ Some players in the past have said they bounced from category from category on purpose to throw everyone. I wasn’t trying to do that at all, it wasn’t my goal. I was just trying to get as much money I could before the big bets came in to leverage that.”
However, as Wired notes, his style of “darting around the board” is a variation of what Jeopardy fans know as the “Forrest Bounce,” named for Chuck Forrest, who pioneered the technique to throw his opponents off their game.
5. He sends messages to his family with his bets. James bet $38,314 on April 16’s episode (which was odd since he had $72, 600 going into Final Jeopardy) but there was a hidden message in that. Adding up his winnings from the first two rounds, it came out to $110, 914 – which is his daughter’s birthday (11/09/14) “What Is Berlin <3 Happy Anniversary M!” James wrote in Final Jeopardy on the April 12 episode, a message to his wife. He also bet $3,268, which was a shoutout to his nephew, Jack, who was born on March 26, 2008.
“As for the shoutouts, family will always be more important to me than money or winning on ‘Jeopardy,’ and the bets were a fun and unconventional way for me to show them that,” he said.
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