James Holzhauer, the “Jeopardy!” champion who won 32 straight games, earning a total of $2,462,216, has donated a portion of his winnings to a Chicago-area pancreatic cancer walk.
And he did so in Alex Trebek’s name.
Here’s how it happened: During what would be the contestant’s final episode, Trebek praised Holzhauer’s daughter for a handmade card. “I want to express my thanks to your beautiful little daughter, Natasha, for having made this get-well card for me,” Trebek said in the beginning of the show. “That was very sweet of her.”
Ann Zediker, a resident of Holzhauer’s former town and fundraiser in the walk, told CNN that she was watching the show and, aware of Holzhauer’s connection to Naperville — the champ is a former resident — decided she would reach out and invite him to the 2019 Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk on July 14.
“At the end of the day, I had nothing to lose,” Zediker, who lost her father in 2010 to pancreatic cancer, told CNN. “My heart told me it was the right thing to do.”
Holzhauer told her he would be unable to participate in the event. However, he sent her a donation for $1,109.14. Holzhauer wrote the message, “For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors.”
At first, Zediker was confused by the dollar amount. But then it dawned on her — the number represented his daughter Natasha’s birthday.
“There was no expectation on my end,” she told CNN. “I was just thrilled that he responded. I knew that Alex’s story had an impact on him, just like it has an impact on anyone who’s working with a family member who’s going through pancreatic cancer.”
The walk is organized by the Lustgarten Foundation, which is the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research. Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates, and is an extremely difficult disease to overcome.
James Holzhauer’s historic “Jeopardy!” winning streak came to an end Monday night — and it wasn’t even a wrong answer that undid him.
Holzahauer was this close to breaking the all-time “Jeopardy!” earnings record, but he fell short in his 33rd straight game — even though he had the right answer.
Holzhauer entered Monday night’s Final Jeopardy! round trailing opponent Emma Boettcher $23,400 to her $26,600. He needed her to get the answer wrong in order to win, but both correctly answered the final question about 16th-century English playwright Christopher “Kit” Marlowe.
Holzahauer wagered $1,399.
Boettcher’s bet of $20,201 was enough to win regardless of what Holzhauer bet.
News of his streak-breaking loss made the rounds on Monday morning thanks to a leaked taping of the episode. The rumors were compounded by early airings of the show. “Jeopardy!” typically doesn’t air until the evening, but due to programming schedules, some local stations air episodes in the afternoons.
As the news spread, Holzhauer himself joked about the outcome.
“Knew I shouldn’t have invited Drake to the Jeopardy taping,” he wrote Monday afternoon. (The rapper is known for keeping company with athletes who then mysteriously suffer critical sports upsets.)
Holzhauer has won more than $2 million over this 32-game “Jeopardy!” winning streak, but even that pile of prize cash probably won’t dull the full sting of Monday night’s loss.
If he had won, Holzhauer would have broken the $2,520,700 non-tournament earnings record set by “Jeopardy!” legend Ken Jennings all the way back in 2004.
Holzhauer will return to the Jeopardy! stage for the next edition of the Tournament of Champions.
If you’ve been watching “Jeopardy!” lately, you’re probably familiar with James Holzhauer, the Las Vegas resident and professional sports better currently smashing records on the nightly game show.
During his 11-day run so far, he has broken the single-day winnings record a total of four times, his biggest haul coming in at $131,127.
For context, prior to Holzhauer’s “Jeopardy!” debut, the single-day winnings record was held by Roger Craig, who only managed to rack up $77,000.
So, how does Holzhauer do it? His method is far from new or novel, but his background in gambling gives him a considerable edge.
He bounces around the board
The clues in “Jeopardy!” are written intentionally to flow from tile to tile in order of difficulty and increasing monetary value. So,contestants are generally encouraged to make their way down each category from top to bottom.
Holzhauer, like some previous “Jeopardy!” champions, doesn’t play this way.
He employs a controversial method known as the “Forrest Bounce,” in which the contestant jumps around from category to category, choosing tiles out of order to throw off his or her opponents.
Holzhauer is not the first to master the “Forrest Bounce.” Previous contestants like Arthur Chu and Chuck Forrest (who the method is named after) have used it to both confuse opponents and rack up the most amount of money in a short span of time by starting from the bottom of each category, where the clues are hardest.
While effective if done right, the “Forrest Bounce,” is not very popular among the show’s staff, including host Alex Trebek, who has spoken out against the method. He argues that it disrupts the natural order of the show, which the writers work hard on preparing.
He hunts for the Daily Doubles
This method also allows contestants to jump around the board and hunt for the hidden Daily Double tiles, which give them the opportunity to wager winnings with the prospect of drastically increasing their score. This is where Holzhauer shines.
With the confidence normally required to intimidate opponents in a game of poker or blackjack, Holzhauer plays fast and with no hesitation. By jumping around swiftly from clue to clue, he confuses the other players, who often find it hard to keep up.
He wagers enormous amounts
Then come the wagers.
By the time he lands on a Daily Double tile, Holzhauer is usually so far ahead of the other contestants he can wager enormous amounts of money, knowing he’d still be ahead if he loses the bet (he usually doesn’t lose). By the final round, known as Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer has often already amassed more money than the average single-day haul, giving him a wide open opportunity to bet big and win big.
Holzhauer’s total winnings at this point are $771,920, putting him in second place for most winnings earned in total.
Current record-holder Ken Jennings earned more than $2.5 million during his run, though it took him 74 games.
At this rate, Holzhauer could very well beat Jennings’ record in a much shorter amount of time — surely to the chagrin of many “Jeopardy!” purists.