James Holzhauer’s Path To The ‘Jeopardy!’ GOAT Tournament Is Much More Complicated Than You Might Think

It’s hard to imagine but it was just a year ago that James Holzhauer was just a sports gambler who wanted to get on Jeopardy! In the year that’s followed, Holzhauer set 20 Jeopardy! records, won the 2019 edition of the Tournament of Champions and saw hype around his Jeopardy! run start the Greatest of All Time Tournament.

The Jeopardy! world will never be without Holzhauer now, no matter who wins the GOAT Tournament later this week. But given just how hard it was for him to get on the show, we could have easily lived in a world where none of this is happening at all.

“I tried out for Jeopardy! just about every year they offered the online tests,” Holzhauer said in a segment that aired during the GOAT Tournament last week. But now we know just how many times he entered, and it’s a lot more than many would expect. On Monday, Holzhauer retweeted a message from the official Jeopardy! account and shared his own story, revealing that it took him 13 attempts to get through the extremely challenging quiz the show administers to determine contestants worthy of the stage.

Holzhauer’s response is, of course, funny, breaking down just how much money he’s won per test he’s taken. But it also reveals that he’s been far from a shoe-in when it comes to Jeopardy! His run on the show has been legendary and has made him a household name among game show fans, but if he’d given up after the first dozen or so rejections it simply would never have happened.

It’s weird to imagine Holzhauer as anything but the person he’s shown himself as: a trivia savant extremely worthy of being named the best Jeopardy! player in show history. But given how hard it was for him to actually make it on the show, it’s got to be encouraging for those that have struggled to get past the test despite their best efforts.

We’ll see if that encourages anyone to sign up and test their skills later this month. Maybe the next GOAT is out there just waiting for a chance to hit the stage.