James Holzhauer became a household name two years ago when he went on one of the greatest Jeopardy! runs in history. He has since parlayed that fame into more TV game show opportunities, but his first love is and always will be sports, where he carved out quite the career for himself in Las Vegas as a professional sports gambler before his Jeopardy! fame.
Life as a pro sports gambler involves being willing to throw around large sums of money and at times accept some big losses, which can be a terrifying proposition. Getting past that and trusting the systems you’ve built to win money in the long run is key for a gambler, but it can be much harder for spouses and family members to accept those same wild swings. Holzhauer is now a sports betting columnist for The Athletic, and he is a big baseball fan and recently joined Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville on their Starkville podcast to talk about the bet that he knew was a lock but absolutely terrified his wife.
When Ken Griffey Jr. was up for Hall of Fame election, Holzhauer just happened to have $50,000 sitting around in his account and threw it on a “Griffey to be elected to the Hall” bet that netted him…a grand total off $500. His wife was, understandably, not thrilled about risking that amount for such little reward, even if Holzhauer was sure it would pay.
"It was $50,000 to win $500. But it's Ken Griffey Jr., you know?"
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) June 22, 2021
I cannot blame James Holzhauer’s wife, because if you have $50,000 just laying around in your account, is it really worth the risk for $500. At the same time, Holzhauer is right, there was no way Griffey wasn’t going to make the Hall of Fame and it’s actually fairly stunning that there were even odds available for him. In short, being the spouse of a professional gambler seems wildly stressful and I am sure Mrs. Holzhauer is thrilled to have all that Jeopardy! money now that is much more stable in case James tosses $50,000 out the window one day on a sure thing.
As for Holzhauer, he learned that, on the other side, you don’t have to always tell everyone how the sausage gets made when it comes to your job, when that job is sometimes risking lots of money to win a little money. In the end, he got his $500 and now has a very good story.