32-day Jeopardy Champion’s Streak Ends; Falls Short of Record

Stanley Kong

Looks like I’ve become notorious for jinxing. Last December, I wrote about Drew Brees and his record-breaking season, only for his team to fall in the NFC Championship after one infamous play (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Last Saturday, I wrote an article talking about Jeopardy champion James Holzhauer’s tear through the game show. He was setting records on the daily and seemed destined to become the winningest contestant in Jeopardy history.

The very next episode, James Holzhauer was no longer the champion.

Going into the Final Jeopardy question, he was trailing behind for the first time on his tenure. That person is Emma Boettcher, a 27-year-old librarian from Chicago who is a lifetime fan of Jeopardy and even wrote a Master’s thesis about the show. She was super quick to buzz into a question, even beating James to multiple questions. Emma never faltered, playing a perfect game and that included a true daily double, extending her lead to over $3,000 ahead of the final question. Even if James even all in, he would still be mathematically unable to eclipse Emma if she bet at least $20,201. She did. So instead, James betted small in the hopes that she would get the final question wrong. Did she get it wrong? She did. Not.

Emma Boettcher did everything right in order to beat James. She buzzed quickly and confidently, bet big on the daily double, and most importantly, knew every answer. James tweeted to congratulate her after the show aired: “CONGRATULATIONS to Emma on a world-beating performance. There’s no greater honor than knowing an opponent had to play a perfect game to defeat me…. ‘James will eventually beat himself by flubbing one of his big bets.’ Nope, James got his **s kicked straight up by an elite player who nailed her own big bets.”

It was a gutwrenching sight to see James fall after so many successful games, and as a result, just barely missing Ken Jenning’s all-time earnings record. However, James’s seven highest single-game earnings records will certainly hold for a long, long time (I hope I’m not jinxing this part).

I hope you took my advice from the end of the last article:

“Someone is bound to beat James Holzhauer. Someone somewhere knows more and clicks faster than he does, or at least someone will learn. For now, sit back and tune into ABC weekdays at seven. No matter when or what, if James Holzhauer is on Jeopardy, you are bound to witness history.”

I was right, but I never mentioned how.