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James Holzhauer Could Be Two Weeks Away From ‘Jeopardy!’ Immortality

After a two-week pause, regular season “Jeopardy!” returns to television Monday. And, therefore, so does current champ James Holzhauer, long may he reign.

Holzhauer, a sports bettor from Las Vegas and the defending “Jeopardy!” champion, is two things. One: He is the final embodiment of a yearslong shift toward more aggressive clue-picking and wagering. Two: He is already the greatest player of all time.

When he takes the podium on TV on Monday, he will be sitting on a winning streak of 22 games and total winnings of $1,691,008. For context, that’s more than I make in a year.

Those two stats are both second-best (for now) to Ken Jennings, who went on a captivating 74-game win streak in 2004, amassing $2,520,700. But Holzhauer’s money-winning pace has been otherworldly, even when compared with other trivia immortals. Holzhauer has recorded every single one of the 10 richest “Jeopardy!” games of all time, including five six-digit paydays. And he has at least one of Jennings’s records — his cash total — firmly in his sights.

Holzhauer has won an average of about $77,000 per game, more than double Jennings’s roughly $34,000. (In fact, Holzhauer is averaging more than Jennings ever won in a single game.) If he maintains his current winning pace, Holzhauer will be on track to best Jennings’s money record with his 33rd game.

It’s now well-known that Holzhauer has won so much so quickly by exploiting the Daily Doubles to their fullest. Not only does he hop around the board to where the Daily Doubles most often hide, but he also bets huge when he hits them.

What shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is that Holzhauer is also very, very good at the trivia. According to statistics compiled by the blog The Jeopardy! Fan, Holzhauer has responded correctly to 803 clues and incorrectly to just 27. He’s 49 for 53 on the all-important Daily Doubles and an unbelievable 21 for 22 on Final Jeopardy.

What about Jennings’s other record, those legendary 74 games? A model built by The Jeopardy! Fan, using contestants’ scores going into Final Jeopardy to predict whether they will win their next game and how long their streak will last, gives Holzhauer a 32 percent chance to win 75 games.

And to watch him play, it also seems that there’s a chance he’ll simply be on the show until the end of time.



From ABC News:


Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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