James Holzhauer came out on top in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions on Friday night and added $250,000 to the more than $2.4 million he won on the trivia show earlier in the year. The professional gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada, outlasted two former champions to emerge victorious in the 10-day tournament and claim another big win in one of the most impressive calendar years in the show’s history.
Holzhauer came into the tournament as the heavy favorite following a 32-game winning streak that set records for single-day totals and smashed expectations of what a Jeopardy! champion could win with an innovative strategy and lightning-fast play on the signaling device. Holzhauer took on Emma Boettcher, who eliminated him to end his run on the show earlier this year, and Francois Barcomb, the winner of the show’s Teachers Tournament. He dominated Day 1 of the two-day tournament final, amassing $49,326 on Thursday while Boettcher had $26,400. Barcomb, known for a quick buzzer and seen as a worthy opponent in his own right, faltered with just $1,800 to take into Day Two.
Holzhauer made a joke at the expense of the Atlanta Falcons before Day 2 aired, but it was apt: He would nave needed a considerable slip-up in Day 2 of the final to lose out on another $250,000.
I'm letting Dan Quinn coach the second half. Hope nothing happens to that lead! https://t.co/9WIOXJ1Qls
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) November 15, 2019
It was far from a runaway victory, however, and Friday’s game did feature a bit of drama. Holzhauer has spent a lot of time online praising Boettcher and vouching for her trivia skills, and Friday’s episode featured a valiant attempt by Boettcher to best him a second time. Barcomb ended up in third place, with just $1,800 won on Friday’s episode. But Emma actually had a lead on James headed into Final Jeopardy, which featured the category “International Disputes” and meant there was a bit of drama in the tournament’s final question.
If Boettcher got it right and wagered most or all of her $21,600, she could have had enough to best Holzhauer, barring an incorrect answer. But Holzhauer has been incredible in Final Jeopardy during his time on the show and Friday was no exception. He needed to wager at least $2,490 on Final Jeopardy and get it right, and both he and the other contestants got the right answer, Japan and Russia. He bet $9,812, adding that to his $17,785 and finishing the tournament with $76,923 over two days.
Holzhauer will undoubtedly go down as one of the best Jeopardy! players ever, but it’s unclear what happens next. Barring a special exhibition tournament between him and other past Jeopardy! champions like Ken Jennings or an IBM mainframe, he’s out of people to beat on the show.