Losing ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestants Describe Playing Against The ‘Buzzsaw’ That Is James Holzhauer


James Holzhauer is so good at Jeopardy! the producers invented a Teacher’s Tournament to get him off the airwaves before he bankrupts the show. That’s not true, of course — the tournament happens every year and 15 educators will vie for $100,000 in cash. But it’s fun to imagine the game show’s staff frantically inventing ways to put Holzhauer out of business before he eats Alex Trebek and Co. out of house and home.

Holzhauer has already won more than $100,000 a number of times over the course of his 22 day run, which certainly puts all the work the teachers will do over the next two weeks into perspective. And given that the pro sports bettor’s win streak will freeze at 22 wins and $1,691,008 won for a fortnight while teachers battle it out, it’s fun to look back at the wreckage Holzhauer has left in his wake since he started his assault on the game show.

On Monday, Deadspin published a feature written by a former Jeopardy! contestant that interviewed contestants that endured the “buzzsaw” that is Holzhauer. It’s a glowing profile of Holzhauer’s dominance brought to life by the people he beat. And the biggest thing you take away from the piece is that the people on stage feel just as in awe of Holzhauer as viewers have been watching at home.

Some of the quotes are true gems.

“I had been stressing a lot about how I would do and if I would win, and suddenly the choice was taken away from me,” said Lorelle Anderson, clobbered in Holzhauer’s 10th game. “I felt relieved.”

“I felt intimidated,” said Libby Wood, soundly defeated in Holzhauer’s 19th victory. “I couldn’t imagine beating this guy who’d been steamrolling dozens of others before me.”

The times that Holzhauer has been close to the brink, he’s always come through.

“I had a pretty sizable lead, so I was getting pretty confident,” said Satish Chandrasekhar, who played in Holzhauer’s second game, one of the only competitive matches. “And then, for lack of a better word, shit kind of hit the fan. James got that third Daily Double and pretty much doubled up. Just like that, I was behind.”