Jeopardy! Champion, James Holzhauer, is breaking all records on the trivia game show - and he shows no sign of slowing down. Iconic and perdurable Jeopardy!, consisting of host Alex Trebek and blue box panels, has sported a fair share of champions over the years. However, Holzhauer’s current reign is game-changing.
Created by Merv Griffin, the show consists of presenting contestants with clues in the forms of answers, to which players must phrase their responses in the form of a question. A household staple and the most recognized game show of all time, the series has been in syndication for 35 seasons. Jeopardy! has become a Hollywood A-lister itself, being featured in a slew of films and TV shows, including, The Golden Girls, SNL, and Family Guy. A seemingly tame form of entertainment, Jeopardy! has made waves in the headlines over the years with a mid-game marriage proposal, a contestant winning with just $1, and the recent shock of Trebek’s cancer diagnosis. Now, a contestant’s winning streak is drawing in as much attention as his earnings.
According to USA Today, the 34-year-old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas James Holzhauer recently became the second person ever to surpass $1 million in non-tournament play. The contestant caused viewers to notice him early on by winning $131,127 in a single game. While there does appear to be strategy involved, Holzhauer also possesses encyclopedic trivia knowledge. Using his coined term, “All the chips,” while making bets, the contestant seems optimistic about taking risks. Perhaps the biggest question of Jeopardy! - not from a blue box - is what formula he is following to make his gameplay a dominant force. Eddie Timanus, a five-time winner on Jeopardy!, has analyzed his strategy:
“First and foremost, a successful Jeopardy! player has to have a broad trivia knowledge base. Of equal if not greater importance, however, is a contestant’s ability to master the buzzer, or, to use its proper name, the signaling device. According to statistics compiled by Andy Saunders at thejeopardyfan.com, Holzhauer successfully rang in first nearly 57 percent of the time through his first 14 wins. That’s a phenomenal percentage with two other competitors trying to do the same. But it’s his approach to the board that’s made him a true game-changer. While many players, myself included, prefer to play categories from top to bottom and try to stick to them, Holzhauer clears the big-dollar clues first. Thanks to his ability to ring in first consistently and rarely miss, he usually has a considerable total built up by the time he uncovers a daily double."
As it stands, the reigning Jeopardy! champion is Ken Jennings, who tapped out at just over 2.5 million in 74 games. Jennings was dethroned after providing the wrong answer to a question about taxes. While Holzhauer is on track to surpass Jennings at this rate, there is no telling what question will stump the champion. Holzhauer has attributed his vast array of knowledge to children’s literature - claiming those books were easier to dive into than adult reference books. For those worried about Holzhauer’s winnings breaking the show’s bank, the streak is causing viewers to tune in more than ever, which has boosted advertising sales.
Jeopardy! is America’s favorite game show for numerous reasons. With beloved father-figure Trebek behind the podium, wholesome entertainment, and nuggets of knowledge, the program has become more than just a game show to its viewers. Jeopardy! has become part of the family during its syndication and welcomed into the homes of millions. Holzhauer's current winning streak has breathed new excitement into the show, and amid a rocky season after Trebek’s cancer diagnosis, it is reminding viewers why they tune in in the first place. Holzhauer and Jeopardy! do not appear to be dwindling anytime soon.
Source: USA Today