- James Holzhauer is an American gambler, TV personality, and Jeopardy! champion.
- He is also a cast member of The Chase, another trivia game show.
- James competed on Jeopardy! Masters in May 2023, and named the first champion.
James Holzhauer, 38, became the third-highest-earning American game show contestant of all time after he went on a 32-game winning streak on Jeopardy! from April to June 2019 and won again in the Tournament of Champions in November 2019. In addition to earning a whopping total of $2,714,416 in Jeopardy! games, he won an additional $250, 000 for the Tournament of Champions and it led him to compete for the ultimate win in Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time contest, which took place in Jan. 2020. The impressive man competed against now-host Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the other two top contestants from Jeopardy!, in the highly anticipated competition.
Fans also got a chance to watch James compete again when he played on Jeopardy! Masters in May 2023, and became the first champion. James took home the grand prize of $500,000 as well as the inaugural Trebek Trophy after outsmarting fellow contestant Mattea Roach by approximately 2,000 points. Mattea held a good lead against James and fellow contestant Matt Amodio heading into final jeopardy, but Matt forfeited the question during the last category of the night “Latins in Literature”, and while James answered incorrectly, he wagered only 119 points. Mattea also answered incorrectly with a wager of 5,915 points, so in the end, James took home the gold and ended the competition with 43,795 points overall. Mattea placed second after scoring a total of 41,685 and won a prize of $250,000, while Matt came in third with 15,200 pointed and received a prize of $150,000.
The other show’s prior champions, who returned to compete, included Dr. Sam Buttrey, Andrew He, and Amy Schneider. Ahead of the show, James took to Twitter on Apr. 12 to reveal the show’s latest promotional poster and poke fun at it. “This poster screams ‘We know you saw this tournament last year but a new supervillain has joined the cast for the sequel!’ and I am here for it,” he captioned the tweet. As we all get ready to excitingly watch in anticipation of which intelligent contestant will win the ultimate prize, here are five things you should know about James!
1. He’s A Professional Gambler From Las Vegas
This poster screams “We know you saw this tournament last year but a new supervillain has joined the cast for the sequel!” and I am here for it pic.twitter.com/dqMVsL9GeI
— z – James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) April 12, 2023
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 His First Game Show
His 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. James’s spouse, Melissa 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 five-year-old daughter.
3. James Holzhauer’s Winnings On ‘Jeopardy!’
Although Ken leads the pack in the number one spot of all time after he won 74 consecutive Jeopardy! games in 2004 earning him $2,520,700, James is not far behind. His winnings put him in the number two spot with a total of 32 games won, per the Jeopardy! website. Brad caps it off in the number three spot due to winning five consecutive games back in 2000, when they were limited to five game wins at a time. He still, however, has the most earnings at $4.7 million due to tournaments.
James has proudly earned over $2,462,216 during his time on the hit game show. The most amount he won during a single game was $131,127, during his game in April 2019. James’ success on Jeopardy!, which was previously hosted by the late Alex Trebek, in 2019 helped him become the contestant who broke the record for most money won during a single episode of the long running game show on Apr. 17. On average he has won $76,944 per game.
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.”
What is…Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time? Only the most epic showdown ever! #JeopardyGOAT pic.twitter.com/TioOFq4gxz
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) January 4, 2020
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. His Net Worth
The top income tax bracket in California https://t.co/JhrPPvyTsP
— z – James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) March 21, 2023
James has a net worth of $2 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. The TV personality even joked about what the show has taught him during a Mar. 2023 tweet. “What is a fun fact you learned from Jeopardy!?”, the game show’s account wrote, to which he replied, “The top income tax bracket in California.”
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