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'Jeopardy!' Contestant James Holzhauer Won $2,464,216 in 33 Games

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about various topics including celebrities and entertainment.


James Holzhauer's name became a household word in the Spring of 2019 when he appeared on Jeopardy!, the popular ABC game show. That's because he broke all kinds of records on the long-running game show hosted by Alex Trebek. In fact, he was so good that he broke some of his own records.

The 34-year-old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada made $2,464,216 in his 33 appearances from April 4 to June 3, 2019. Holzhauer was defeated in his 33rd game, which aired on June 3. He was defeated on that date by Emma Boettcher who used many of the same strategies Holzhauer used during his run.

Boettcher's winning streak was so much shorter. The 27-year-old librarian from Chicago won only three games with her total earnings of $97,002. Now the game show is back to where contestants go into the final round with earnings that are closer than they were when Holzhauer was there.

James Holzhauser loses to Emma Boettcher

James Holzhauser loses to Emma Boettcher

Holzhauer's Winnings

On April 9, James broke the record for a single-day cash winning with a total of $110,914. That total matches his daughter's birthday. She was born on November 9, 2014. That was Holzhauer's fourth win in a row totaling $244,365. The previous single-game record was held by Roger Craig, who won $77,000 in 2010.

Holzhauer won $131,127 breaking his own single-day win record of $110,914 on April 9. Actually, he has broken the single-day winnings record a total of seven times. His biggest win was $131,127 on April 17. In all, Holzhauer holds the top single-day winnings records.

As of April 23, 2019, he has appeared on 14 episodes and has won a total of $1,061,554. No other contestant has won this much in such a short period of time, not even Ken Jennings.


Holzhauser's Winning Streak

James won his 14th game on Tuesday, April 23 with a total of $118,816. That brought his total earning up to $1,061,554. The contestant is the second person in the history of the show to win more than $1 million in the regular season.

Ken Jennings was the first and only contestant to do so before Holzhauer. Jennings' won $2,520,700 during his 74-game streak. He is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records under "Most cash won on a game show."

Before Holzhauer, Dave Madden was in the second spot behind Jennings. Madden won $430,400 after playing 19 games. Holzhauer surpassed that total in only eight games. James won his first million in only 14 games. That put him in fourth place in Jeopardy! history.

Daily Double

Daily Double

Holzhauer's $25,000 total on a Daily Double broke Philip Tiu's prior record of $19,000 for largest successful Daily Double wager.

The contestant set the record for the largest successful Final Jeopardy wager twice; first with a $38,314 wager, and with a second win with a $60,013 bet. Both times, he broke the record set by Austin Rogers for the largest successful Final Jeopardy wager with $34,000.

Watch James Holzhauser in Action

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Hotzhauser's Strategy

James' background in gambling gives him a considerable advantage over other players.

Selections from the Bottom
The clues in Jeopardy! are designed to go from the easy to the harder questions and to go from the least to the most amount of money. Most contestants start at the top of the category and work their way down to the bottom where the correct answers are worth more money. Holzhauer starts at the bottom.

Bounces Around the Board
Holzhauer bounces around the board. Needless to say, he gets almost all of the Daily Doubles and his bet is a true Daily Double. This method is known as the "Forrest Bounce" named after contestant Chuck Forrest. The object of this method is to get the most amount of money in the shortest period of time so it can be bet in the Daily Doubles.

Quick on the Buzzer
It is not that the other two contestants are not buzzing in to answer a particular question. It is just that James is much faster. When he answers a question, he is in control of the board until he gets a question wrong which he rarely does.

Final Jeopardy!
Holzhauer is not afraid to wager a large amount on the Final Jeopardy question. He can afford to do. Even if he gets a Final Jeopardy question wrong (which he hasn't done yet), he will still win since he has so much more money than the other two contestants. He bets big and he wins big.

He sends birthday wishes and other messages to family members and friends on his Final Jeopardy! card.

James is Smart, Really Smart
James is very smart in every category that has been on the board.


Holzhauer's Charities

Long before Holzhauer left the show with his high winning, he made donations to a couple of his favorite charities.

  • On April 7, 2019, he donated $10,000 to a Las Vegas organization for displaced teens.
  • He donated to other children's charities and other nonprofit organizations in Las Vegas. On May 2, 2019, he was awarded a key to the Las Vegas Strip for his success on Jeopardy! and for his donations.

About 'Jeopardy!'

At one time, the ruling was that contestants could not stay on the show after their fifth consecutive win. The rule changed in 2003, and contestants can stay as long as they keep winning. Ken Jennings stayed for 75 games over 182 days and won over $2.5 million.

Because of the five-game rule, many other top winners have retired from Jeopardy! undefeated.


Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on April 24, 2019:

He is inspiring

Readmikenow on April 24, 2019:

I am a big Jeopardy fan. This guy is amazing. He is a gambler. Other contestant have been ahead of him, he gets a daily double, puts it all in and wins big. I've never seen anything like him. I read where the average Jeopardy Champion wins between $20 and $25,000. This guy is averaging $70,000 a win. It's amazing and quite exciting for a big fan of the show like me. This was also a good article I enjoyed reading.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 24, 2019:

I've never seen this show before, but it sounds really interesting. It sounds like this man has been doing really well with his winnings.

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