“James’s performance, I’m sure, is causing grief for an accountant somewhere.”
Ken Jennings rose to fame after an unprecedented run on Jeopardy 15 years ago: Over the course of 74 episodes, he won a total of roughly $2.5 million.
Recently, a contestant named James Holzhauer has been working toward Jennings’s record at an astonishing pace. After the Friday-evening broadcast of the quiz program, Holzhauer had won about $850,000 over just 12 episodes. If he keeps up that rate, he’ll reach $2.5 million in less than half the time it took Jennings to do so.
Before Holzhauer went on the show, the most money earned in a single episode of Jeopardy was $77,000. During his 12-episode streak, he’s beaten that total not once, but five times, and has set a new record of $131,127. Holzhauer’s success has been attributed not just to his deep trivia knowledge, but also to his aggressive style of play—he homes in on high-value tiles that might contain Daily Doubles, and then often bets enormous sums when he finds them—and his unmatched buzzer-pressing reflexes.