Did Jeopardy! Whiz James Holzhauer Break the $2.5 Million Total Prize-Money Record?

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains news about the outcome of Monday’s broadcast of Jeopardy!.

After 32 straight wins, James Holzhauer was poised to make Jeopardy! history on Monday.

The game show whiz was on a quest to break Ken Jennings’ regular-season record total winnings of $2.52 million — but he finally fell short as Emma Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago, defeated the champion by $22,002. (The episode has yet to air in some markets.)

With $2,462,216 in earnings, Holzhauer needed just $58,484 to overtake Jennings.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Holzhauer told The New York 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.”

Holzhauer, who lives in Las Vegas and has a background in professional sports gambling, is one of only three players to cross the $2 million mark. He dominated the game with a strategy that involved going for all of the high-value questions first, hunting for the Double Jeopardy items, and when he found them, betting all he had.

“A lot of the opponents have adjusted to the strategy,” he told the Times. “But not all of them have had the guts to actually back it up with a big bet.”

Though he did eventually lose, Holzhauer’s statistics will be tough to beat. According to the Times, he won an average of $77,000 per game, more than double Jennings’ rate.

In an interview with the Washington Post in AprilHolzhauer said he had dreamed of being on the show since he was a kid.

“I promised my dear Granny that I would appear on Jeopardy one day, and I never take promises lightly,” he said. “So here we are.”

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