The Jeopardy! world got some great news on Wednesday, as Alex Trebek announced that despite his current battle with cancer he will return to the show next season. Perhaps to celebrate that announcement, current Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer decided to blow everyone’s damn minds.
Holzhauer, the pro sports bettor currently dominating everyone’s favorite trivia game show, already holds the record for second-most money earned in the show’s history. He also holds the one-day record for earnings, blowing that mark away last week. On Wednesday, however, he decided to better his own mark in memorable fashion.
Holzhauer has made his money by brutally attacking the game, building up his money total and then hunting down Daily Doubles so he can double that total once more. It’s an incredibly effective strategy that others have attempted in the past, but no one has quite been as efficient and ruthless in this manner before. And the key difference is that, one the game is in hand and a runaway victory is secure in Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer makes sure to pile even more money on his total.
In Wednesday’s record-breaking episode, for example, Holzhauer wagered and won $60,013, smashing his own record for a new one-day record of $131,127.
Holzhauer dedicated Wednesday’s game to his late grandmother, and in an interview with Vulture he spoke about why the matriarch meant so much to him.
When I watched Jeopardy! as a kid, I would primarily watch with my grandmother. She was the most beautiful person the world has ever seen. Her first language wasn’t English, so she couldn’t follow along well, but she wanted to share this experience with me since she saw it was something I really liked. I promised her I’d one day be up on that stage for her. I don’t promise anything unless I intend to fulfill it. To me, it’s fulfilling the promise I made to her 25 years ago. Once I really decided to take this seriously, I wasn’t going to half-ass it. It didn’t matter if I won, but if I went home knowing it was the absolute best I was capable of, that’s all I really cared about.
There hasn’t quite been anyone like Holzhauer on Jeopardy!, even with some massive winners in the show’s history. His sense of purpose and ability to come up with huge win totals is punctuated by meaningful numbers that add to his story. Ken Jennings record of 74 straight wins may not be in trouble just yet, but Holzhauer has won $697,78 and owns the four highest single-day totals in show history.
He’s still a long way away from the million-dollar mark and Jennings’ record of $2,520,700, but it’s hard not to imagine it’s possible at the rate he’s winning.