Jeopardy!, as of late, is a show defined by one man not named Alex Trebek. The longtime host of the show is coming back next season despite his cancer diagnosis earlier in the year, but a new constant has been James Holzhauer, the phenom who has taken command of the show in a way no other contestant has in recent memory.
Holzhauer is the show’s biggest star since Ken Jennings won 74 straight games. He’s dominating the show, setting records for winnings and cruising to more than $1.5 million over a few weeks of televised work. But his reign of terror — at least in the eyes of his fellow contestants — will go on hiatus after Friday evening.
Holzhauer won’t be on the show starting on Monday, however, as the show’s annual teacher’s tournament begins on Monday. The two-week tournament will essentially put Holzhauer on the shelf for a fortnight, as teachers battle it out for a top cash prize of $100,000. Here are some small profiles of teachers who will compete — not against Holzhauer, mind you — on the show for a six-figure purse.
Winning a cool $100,000 used to be a hefty sum for the tournament champion, who has to play multiple games and outlast 14 other teachers in the process. But Holzhauer has hit that mark in a single game a number of times at this point, a remarkable stretch of wins that reached 21 on Thursday, which the show celebrated by giving the Las Vegas resident and pro sports bettor his own blackjack joke.
And in case you were worried that Holzhauer might not be around as champion once the tournament resumes at the end of May, he certainly will be. Friday’s game featured another relatively easy win for Holzhauer, as he cruised to his 22nd straight win on the show. Holzhauer had $47,381 ahead of Final Jeopardy, as the other two contestants managed to wrestle a second Daily Double away from the reigning champion. Holzhuer still won $82,381 — adding $35,000 on a correct Final Jeopardy answer to bring his win total to $1,691,008.
Holzhauer heading off the air for two weeks may hurt the ratings for Jeopardy! but it certainly will help the show’s prize budget.