James Holzhauer’s 32-game winning streak on Jeopardy! ended on Monday night when 27-year-old University of Chicago librarian, Emma Boettcher defeated him.
Although Holzhauer, 34, took the lead early in the game, Boettcher caught up with him and won with a total of $46,801 to $24,799.
Before the first airing on a CBS affiliate in Montgomery, Alabama, on Monday, a clip from Final Jeopardy! showing Boettcher, an English major from Princeton, defeating Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler and math major from the University of Illinois, emerged on social media.
"Jeopardy!" producers were…not thrilled that someone leaked "pirated" footage of the show's dramatic ending over the weekend. EP Harry Friedman says they think they know the culprit and that the show will take “very, very, very appropriate” action. https://t.co/SJAKMqcmUI
— Emily Yahr (@EmilyYahr) June 4, 2019
Holzhauer is now the third highest overall earning player ever on Jeopardy! surpassed only by Brad Rutter with $4,603,435 and Ken Jennings with $2,520,700.
Holzhauer lost the match after netting a total of $2,464,216 in his 33 appearances (April to June 2019) during which he set multiple single-game records.
His total of $2,464,216 in 33 appearances is about $56, 484 less than Jennings’ record regular-season win of $2,520,700 from 75 games in 2004.
The records show that in 32 straight games, Holzhauer got 97% of his answers correct, and 32 of 33 Final Jeopardy! clues right.
An analysis for USA Today by Syracuse University sports analytics professors Shane Sanders and Justin Ehrlich found that Holzhauer had more than 99.3% chances of winning at the start of any game and he would likely win 98 more games before losing.
We have a new champion! Congratulations, Emma Boettcher!
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) June 4, 2019
— Sports Guy22 (@Sportsman002) June 4, 2019
James, you were absolutely the greatest Jeopardy contestant that I've ever seen. Your style of play was 2nd to none! Thanks for an amazing run & a very entertaining 2 months & best of luck! 🤗😁
— Anthony Giordano (@RUSHFan0612) June 4, 2019
Did Holzhauer lose on purpose?
Holzhauer’s apparent invincibility led some fans to question his surprisingly small wager of $1,399 on Monday night’s Final Jeopardy!, claiming he threw the game and lost on purpose — maybe because he thought he’d made enough money and did not want to continue playing.
Even Alex Trebek was taken aback by Holzhauer’s paltry Final Jeopardy! wager.
“A modest one, for the first time,” Trebek commented wonderingly.
Although many viewers thought he bet too low and others even came up with a conspiracy theory claiming he did it on purpose to lose, some have defended his move.
He entered Final Jeopardy! with $23,400 against Boettcher’s $26,600, and Jay Sexton in third with $11,000.
Sure, I could stick around and play a game that pays me $150,000 per hour, but I'd really rather get toys thrown at my crotch for free https://t.co/xb6Fg6MMKP
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) June 4, 2019
I'm not saying conspiracy theories are real or that I believe in them, and I'm also not saying that it was just a coincidence that the Final Jeopardy question in the game that ended James' streak was on Shakespeare – a subject on which the winner wrote her undergrad thesis. 🧐😆
— M Trav (@ItsMe_Teezy) June 4, 2019
Well I think the whole thing was fixed but I hope I'm wrong..I just thought with the Bad news about Alex Trebek they wanted to give the show some new attention again just me with my conspiracy theories. #Jeopardy #AlexTrebek
— Milton Ousland (@DACOWBELLMAN) June 3, 2019
I'll add my own Jeopardy James conspiracy theory – he's about to get handsomely paid in some way, shape or form and had to bow out of Jeopardy now…
— Kevin Payne (@KCPayne26) June 4, 2019
That was the only way he could have won since Boettcher had more money so he couldn’t expect to beat her if they both got their answers right.
Betting low also safeguarded him against coming in third if Sexton answered correctly while he and Boettcher answered incorrectly.
Holzhauer later explained the rationale behind his decision to bet low.
“I knew I could only win if Emma missed Final Jeopardy, as there was no way she wouldn’t bet to cover my all-in bet,” Holzhauer said in the interview with Action Network. “So my only concern was getting overtaken by third place, and I bet just enough to make sure of locking him out. Betting big would have looked good for the cameras, but now I turn my straight bet (Emma misses) into a parlay (Emma misses and I get it right).”
Who is James Holzhauer?
Holzhauer was born in July 1984 in Naperville, Illinois. He showed remarkable math abilities very early in life and was consistently getting A’s on math tests, although he was only a C student overall.
He was moved to a fifth-grade math class at the age of 7 and skipped second grade.
As a student at Naperville North High School, he often skipped classes and refused to do his homework because he was more interested in playing online poker. He soon began taking an interest in memorizing sports statistics and in sports gambling.
He was part of the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering team that won the state competition at UIUC. He graduated in 2005 from the University of Illinois with a degree in mathematics.
After college, he moved to Las Vegas and became a professional sports gambler. He is married to Melissa and has a 4-year-old daughter Natasha.
What are his plans for the future?
Holzhauer plans to return to his job as a sports gambler. He also said he would like to do sabermetrics for a baseball team.
He is expected to appear at the next Tournament of Champions or other Jeopardy! special events.