In the spring of 2019, James Holzhauer took over one of the most beloved game shows of all time. For a while it looked like no one could stop his run of dominance — his run on the show broke long-established Jeopardy! records and almost instantly gave him status among Jeopardy! fans as a living legend.
The way Holzhauer plays Jeopardy! is something no one has ever quite seen before, and it’s changed the way fans think of what a Jeopardy! champion can be. He’s aggressive, quick on the buzzer and has a vast wealth of knowledge that is tough to match. He also bets big and quickly snuffs out opponents and any chance they can mount a comeback against him.
What’s amazing about the way Holzhauer plays is that he’s made big scores practically mundane in the weeks he’s been on the show. He averaged a higher money amount than the previous single-game total on the show.
The single-game record books of the show are now littered with Holzhauer’s name. But the rise of Holzhauer over his reign as Jeopardy! champion has been filled with many twists and turns. And big paydays. Let’s track his time on the show and keep track of all that coin and any notable moments during his time on Jeopardy!
Thursday, April 4
James’ first appearance on the show is the harbinger of what’s to come. His first Daily Double of the game he went all-in and doubled to $10,000. He ran away with it from there, finishing with $43,680 on the day an officially being anointed Jeopardy! champion.
Friday, April 5
Holzhauer comes from behind in his second appearance on the show, trailing late into Double Jeopardy but hitting big on the second Daily Double of the round to put the game out of reach by adding $11,914. He wins $38,926 for a two-day total of $82,606.
Monday, April 8
James is starting to feel himself, winning $50,845 in his third day on the show. But the best is yet to come.
Tuesday, April 9
Holzhauer breaks his first big record on his fourth appearance, setting the single-day win total by becoming the first person to crack six figures in a single regulation win. The previous total of $77,000 is obliterated by Holzhauer. He had $72,600 heading into Final Jeopardy and added $38,314 to take the single-day mark with a whopping $110,914 and a four-day total of $244,365.
Wednesday, April 10
Holzhauer’s fifth straight win is another runaway, giving him $54,322 and a total of $298,687 in just a week on the show.
Thursday, April 11
James had another runaway on Thursday, giving him enough juice to survive a rare wrong answer on Final Jeopardy. He had $30,000 going into the final question, dropping $3,010 on a Celebrities question but still winning $27,190 and adding to his six-day total winnings of $325,877.
Friday, April 12
Holzhauer finished out his first full week on Jeopardy! by crushing the competition, snagging all three Daily Doubles and taking $58,148 into Final Jeopardy. James wins going away, piling on $31,010 to win $89,158, his second win higher than the previous single-day total.
Monday, April 15
James misses on a true Daily Double early, dropping to zero. It doesn’t matter, and he cruises into Final Jeopardy with $35,415. He ads another $10k in Final Jeopardy, finishing with $45,444 and an eight-day total of $460,479. He is now second to Ken Jennings in regular season winnings.
Tuesday, April 16
Holzhauer breaks $100,000 for a second time in style for his ninth straight win. Holzhauer had $16,000 at the first commercial break and a whopping $66,181 heading into Final Jeopardy. With his closest opponent at $11,200, he wagers $40,000 and hits on Final Jeopardy to win $106,181 for a nine-day total of $566,660. He has three of the highest single-day performances in the show’s history.
Wednesday, April 17
James finally breaks his own single-game record, with $71,114 under him as he hit Final Jeopardy. Alex Trebek basically insists he goes for the record, and he does — a $60,013 wager in Final Jeopardy that gives him a new one-day record of $131,127. Holzhauer’s wager drew gasps from the audience, and his 10-day winning streak gave him $697,787 in winnings.
Thursday, April 18
Holzhauer cruised to a $74,133 win for an 11-day total of $771,920.
Friday, April 19
Holzhauer made it a dozen wins, adding $35,006 to his earnings of $851,926.
Monday, April 22
Holzhauer hit on all three Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy for a total win of $90,812 for a 13-day total of $942,738.
Tuesday, April 23
Holzhauer set a new second-highest win total in show history, $118,816 for a 14-day total of $1,061,554. Holzhauer once again got all three Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy and had an absurd $20,000 after the first Jeopardy! round.
Wednesday, April 24
James once again had $20,000 after the first round. He finished the day with $73,621, good for a 15-day total of $1,135,17.
Thursday, April 25
Holzhauer added more than $35,000 to his total in Final Jeopardy, winning $90,812 and taking his overall total to $1,225,987 over 16 games.
Friday, April 26
James’ opponents found all three Daily Doubles but it didn’t matter, with Holzhauer taking $29,600 into Final Jeopardy and winning $49,600 for a 17-day total of $1,275,587.
Monday, April 29
Holzhauer’s narrowest margin of victory came because another opponent used his strategy against him. Adam Levin, a sports information director from Massachusetts, swiped the third Daily Double of the round and wagered $12,000 of his $13,000, correctly answering “False Flag” to the clue of “Ships of yore masked their nationality with this, now a term for any covert act designed to make another entity look guilty.”
Entering Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer, who missed the first Daily Double of the game and won over $10,000 on the second, had just a $6,517 lead at $33,517 to $27,000 for Levin. Both of them correctly answered the Final Jeopardy prompt of “The oldest of these business booster groups, formed in Marseille in 1599, uses “de” instead of “of” in the name,” correctly with “Chamber of Commerce,” and Holzhauer’s $20,500 wager was just enough to edge out his best challenger to date, who bet all but $1 of his total, by $18.
Holzhauer won $54,107 for an 18-day total of $1,329,604.
Tuesday, April 30
Holzhauer wagered $40,000 in Final Jeopardy to win with $96,729 and add to his 19-day total of $1,426,330.
Wednesday, May 1
Holzhauer tied the second-longest winning streak in Jeopardy! history, tying Julia Collins for the mark. He won $101,682 for a 20-day total of $1,528,012.
Thursday, May 2
James moved into second place on his own. He started slow, though by Final Jeopardy he had $51,212. Holzhauer won $80,615 for a 21-day total of $1,608,62.
Friday, May 3
Holzhauer won his 22nd game and got a two-week break with the show’s Teacher’s Tournament. He won $82,381, good for a 22-day total of $1,691,008.
Monday, May 20
James came back to Jeopardy! with his trademark strong play, winning $89,229 for a 23-day total of $1,780,237.
Tuesday, May 21
Holzhauer had all three Daily Doubles and bet $31,010 on Final Jeopardy to win with $86,905 for a 24-day total of $1,867,142.
Wednesday, May 22
James was dominant again, winning $71,885 for a 25-day total of $1,939,027.
Thursday, May 23
Holzhauer had is second close game of his run with another contestant getting Nate, a tech consultant from New York City, played about as well as you could against Holzhauer. He played like James — snagging $1,000 clues to build an early lead. But most importantly, he got to the Daily Doubles first.
Nate and James basically dueled the entire night. Nate got the first Daily Double and doubled his $3,400 to take an early lead on Holzhauer heading into the first commercial break. In the Double Jeopardy round, he found the first Daily Double and had a chance to do what Holzhauer has done so often over the course of his dominant run.
The $2,000 clue in the science question came when Holzhauer had $6,600 and Nate had 13,400 — more than twice what Holzhauer currently had. And here is what makes Holzhauer so good, and what many champions — including Ken Jennings — don’t have the “stomach” for. Whereas Holzhauer would have almost certainly gone for the proverbial kill to put his opponents in a huge hole, Nate only bid $6,000. He got the question right, but there was still a ton of game to go and Holzhauer promptly came all the way back.
And it immediately backfired. When Holzhauer found the third Daily Double minutes later, he went all-in and doubled to $16,400 to get within Nate’s $19,400. By the time Final Jeopardy rolled around, Holzhauer had the lead $31,200 to $25,800 and only had to get Final Jeopardy right to win. He did, and bet big — wagering $20,908 on Final Jeopardy to win with $52,108.
Friday, May 24
Holzhauer officially crossed the $2 million mark, dominating to become the second ever person to reach that plateau in regular season play. Following a bet of $35,000 on Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer sat pretty with a win of $74,400, officially giving him a total of $2,065,535.
Monday, May 27
Holzhauer had $18,600 at the first commercial break and a massive $72,022 heading into Final Jeopardy. He didn’t break his own single-game record but won $130,022, giving him a 28-day total of $2,195,557.
Tuesday, May 28
Holzhauer won his 29th straight game, good for a 29-day total of $2,254,938.
Wednesday, May 29
Holzhauer had another runaway victory, adding $69,033 in his 30th straight win for a total of $2,323,971.
Thursday, May 30
Holzhauer moved into striking distance of Jennings’ all-time regular season winnings mark, taking home $58,612 in about 22 minutes of work to reach $2,382,583.
Friday, June 1
James cruised once again. He found and answered all three Daily Doubles correctly and added $27,000 in Final Jeopardy to win with $79,633 and reach a 32-day total of $2,462,216. That puts him just $58,484 off the all-time mark Jennings set during his 74-game run on the show in 2004.
Monday, June 3
On episode 191 of season 35 of Jeopardy!, James Holzhauer’s historic run came to an end. Emma, a user experience librarian from Holzhauer’s home state of Illinois, played a strong game against James and put him on the brink. She found both Daily Doubles in the Double Jeopardy round,
Emma had the lead heading into Final Jeopardy — $23,600 to Holzhauer’s $20,400. James had never trailed heading into Final Jeopardy, and it put him in a vulnerable position: he hadn’t done enough in the first two rounds to make it only matter if he knew the correct answer.
The Final Jeopardy category was “Shakespeare’s Time” and Holzhauer, playing behind, had a modest wager to put him above the third place bet in case Emma wagered big and lost. She bet big — a Holzhauer-esque $20,201 of her available $20,400 — but didn’t get it wrong. All three contestants put down “Marlowe,” including Emma who won with $46,801 and became the new Jeopardy! champion.
“I never really believed I could win 75 shows,” said Holzhauer, who finished just $58,484 shy of Jennings’ record. “But I definitely thought I had a great shot at Ken’s cash winnings record.”
Holzhauer finished the show a 32-day champion with $2,462,216 in winnings.