If you, like us, sat in front of the television tonight anticipating 21 minutes of James Holzhauer whipping his Jeopardy! competition into shape, only to see a game completely devoid of his tasteful button-ups, don’t worry. Take a breath. It’s all right. There’s a perfect reasonably explanation for this.
Over the next two weeks — from Monday, May 6, to Friday, May 17 — the show’s annual Teachers Tournament will be occurring, which means Holzhauer won’t play his next game until Monday, May 20. Per tradition, the spring Teachers Tournament gathers 15 educators of different disciplines from around the country to duke it out for a $100,000 prize. Some teachers, such as Colby Burnett, even go on to become Jeopardy! famous in their own right.
When Holzhauer returns on May 20, he’ll have an astounding $1,691,008 in winnings over 22 games. He’s in second place in total regular-game winnings only to Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings, who accrued more than $2.5 million throughout his 74 wins back in 2004. (As for Jennings, he actually wants his records to be beat.) In a recent interview with Vulture, Holzhauer defined his gameplay as “strategically aggressive,” saying he modeled his style off his career as a successful sports gambler in Las Vegas. “My theory is that you need to be betting very aggressively on Daily Doubles and in Final Jeopardy,” he explained. “I was just trying to get as much money I could before the big bets came in to leverage that. If you don’t give yourself the best chance of winning, you’re going to kick yourself tomorrow.”