“Jeopardy!” champ James Holzhauer could set record tonight

  • James Holzhauer is on track to surpass Ken Jennings’ $2.52 million record “Jeopardy!” winnings on Monday night’s show.
  • Holzhauer needs about $58,000 in winnings to match Jennings’ record. 
  • However, a clip is circulating on social media purportedly showing Holzhauer losing, although it’s unclear whether the clip is real.

Love him or hate him, James Holzhauer could make television history tonight. That’s because, with the trivia game show set to air Monday night, the “Jeopardy!” champion is within striking distance of Ken Jennings’ record $2.52 million in winnings.

Holzhauer has taken 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. He now needs to win about $58,000 to match Kennings’ record, a feat that’s doable given Holzhauer’s average per-game winnings of about $77,000. 

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End of the road?

Of course, that would require Holzhauer extending his streak. A purportedly leaked “Jeopardy!” clip appears to show him going down to defeat, although it’s unclear whether the clip is real. “Jeopardy!” representatives didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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Holzhauer, 35, a professional gambler who lives in Las Vegas, has proved to be an outlier in the trivia-quiz game show. He’s not only provided the correct questions for 1,160 pieces of trivia — while asking 36 incorrect questions — but he’s developed an aggressive strategy that’s boosted his per-show winnings far above the norm.

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The average champion takes away $19,980, according to “Jeopardy!” 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. 

The odds of winning

Statistically speaking, the odds are on Holzhauer continuing his winning streak. Based on his performance so far, he’s likely to win 98 additional games and has a 75% chance of breaking Jennings’ winning streak of 74 consecutive victories, Syracuse University sports analytics professors Shane Sanders and Justin Ehrlich told USA Today. 

Whatever happens on Monday, Holzhauer has galvanized attention on the 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.