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Following a two-week break for a teachers’ tournament, trivia champion James Holzhauer returned to Jeopardy in mid-May for a highly anticipated attempt at beating Ken Jennings’ record winning streak on the syndicated game show. On Monday, Holzhauer was finally beaten.
With a winning streak of 32 games, which often included daily winnings of $77,000, succeeding Jennings’ daily average of $33,000, the 34-year-old champion and professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has already accumulated $2,462,216 and broken records for the highest single-day winnings in Jeopardy history.
Holzhauer’s winning streak came to an end when he competed against Chicago-based librarian Emma Boettcher during his 33rd game.
Boettcher’s winning game began when Holzhauer picked a clue worth $1,200 from a category with clues about capitals. The librarian buzzed in before Holzhauer and answered correctly.
Boettcher told The New York Times that she hadn’t heard of Holzhauer going into the taping of her episode. (Episodes are prerecorded, often months ahead of airing.) “It was weird to be a daily watcher of Jeopardy! and somehow there’s this phenomenon that I’d never heard of.”
Holzhauer’s winning streak continued to be put in jeopardy when Boettcher chose a Daily Double. She was behind the reigning champion at that point, so she wagered everything and earned the points to put her in the lead.
Boettcher remained in the lead when they reached Final Jeopardy. The last clue was the line “A great reckoning in a little room” in As You Like It, which is usually used to refer to the author’s premature death. Both Holzhauer and Boettcher, as well as the third contestant, answered correctly: “Who is Marlowe?”
“I don’t think I felt like I won until [host] Alex [Trebek] said so,” Boettcher told The New York Times.
In April, Holzhauer joined Jennings as one of only two people to ever win more than $1 million in regular-season play on the game show. Jennings previously held the record for 15 years.
After Holzhauer’s loss, Jennings took to Twitter to poke fun at him with a photo from Avengers: Endgame to symbolize his “reign of destruction” coming to an end.
Actual photo of James Holzhauer walking off stage at Jeopardy, his reign of destruction completed. pic.twitter.com/Xdf5PFR3QD
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) June 4, 2019
Holzhauer’s increasing popularity caused the ratings of Jeopardy to skyrocket, drawing its best household rating in 14 years in the week of April 29.
Jennings remains the all-time undefeated champion of Jeopardy, having earned more than $2.5 million in regular play proceedings over 74 games.
Following Trebek’s revelation of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March, fans have been unsure as to the fate of the quiz show. In early May, the host expressed hope toward returning to the show’s 36th season in the position he has held since 1984.
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