- Jeopardy! contestant James Holzhauer needed just $58,484 in winnings to exceed Ken Jennings' record of $2.5 million.
- Holzhauer has provided the correct questions for 1,160 pieces of trivia, while asking only 36 incorrect questions.
- The average Jeopardy! champion takes away $19,980, according to fan site TheJeopardyFan.com.
Love him or hate him, Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer made television history as he chased Ken Jennings' record $2.52 million in winnings.
[Spoiler alert: Anyone who doesn't want to find out whether Holzhauer broke the record ahead of time should stop reading now — Jeopardy! shows are taped long in advance, and the outcome is already published.]
Holzhauer told the New York Times on Monday that he has finally been defeated, losing to Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher. The program will air Monday night in most U.S. markets. Still, the professional gambler had quite a run. Holzhauer took home $2.462 million in his 32-day streak, making him the second-biggest winner in "Jeopardy!" history and only the second person after Jennings to surpass the $2 million mark.
"Nobody likes to lose," Holzhauer told the Times. "But I'm very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show. So I don't feel bad about it."
What is "$58,484"?
Holzhauer needed just $58,484 to match Kennings' record, a feat that appeared doable given Holzhauer's average per-game winnings of about $77,000. That he came so close owed both to his superlative command for trivia and his aggressive betting strategy.
Holzhauer, 35, a professional gambler who lives in Las Vegas, provided the correct questions for 1,160 pieces of trivia, while asking a scant 36 incorrect questions. His strategy also boosted his per-show winnings far above the norm.
The average champion takes away $19,980, according to fan site TheJeopardyFan.com, which analyzed winnings from October 2004 through May 2017. After adding in the second- and third-place contestants' winnings, the average for all "Jeopardy!" contestants is about $11,900 — that's about one-sixth the typical winnings scored by Holzhauer each night.
Holzhauer praised his rival, calling Boettcher a "top-level competitor."
"She played a perfect game," he told the Times. "And that was what it took to beat me."
Holzhauer galvanized public interest in the long-running quiz game, drawing both detractors and supporters for his strategic game play. He's known for starting out at the bottom of the board — thereby scoring the high dollar amounts — seeking out the Daily Double and betting it all. Among his supporters is Jennings, who tweeted congratulations to Holzhauer when he crossed the $2 million mark.
"Phenomenal. That's like, global-warming-graph Jeopardy performance. Welcome to the $2M club, James," Jennings wrote.