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Will James Holzhauer Actually Beat Ken Jennings’s Jeopardy! Record?

Photo: ABC

Every time Jeopardy! powerhouse James Holzhauer hits a Daily Double or makes a huge Final Jeopardy bet, audiences can’t help but wonder two things: Is this dude unstoppable? And will he catch up to Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings?

In terms of earning serious dough, Holzhauer has moved well beyond make-it-rain territory. The professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has racked up $1,867,142 over 24 games with his aggressive style of play, which focuses on the big-money questions first. (What’s more, Holzhauer is on Jeopardy! to fulfill a childhood promise that he made to his grandmother. Cue the collective awww!)

Holzhauer’s high-risk gameplay and massive winnings already rank him among the highest-earning Jeopardy! contestants ever. But let’s get down to business: How does the rookie compare to Jeopardy!’s Head Brainiac in Charge Ken Jennings, who famously racked up more than $2.5 million during his record-breaking run in 2004? The new guy has just shy of a $700,000 to go, but yes, he has a legitimate chance to topple the king.

Jennings won 74 consecutive games — which, if you can’t tell how huge that is, Holzhauer has the show’s second-longest run — with an average daily winnings of $33,660. Holzhauer just won his 24th consecutive game and his average daily take home is a massive $77,798, more than double what Jennings typically pulled. Holzhauer’s largest win to date is $131,127 — the highest single-game payout in Jeopardy! history — and he holds the top ten spots on the all-time list of highest one-day winnings. Jennings himself said that he’s “just gobsmacked” by what Holzhauer is doing.

How, exactly, is he pulling this off? His average Daily Double wager is $9,157, more than double Jennings’s average wager of $3,810. The higher risk has meant higher reward for Holzhauer, who, of course, couldn’t dominate the game without the brain power to back up his big bets. Aggressive betting is par for the course for Holzhauer, who told Vulture, “I know life goes on if you make a big bet and you lose. But if you don’t give yourself the best chance of winning, you’re going to kick yourself tomorrow.” Jennings was able to rack up $2,520,700 over 74 games, and Holzhauer is more than two-thirds of the way there in 24 episodes. If he can keep this up, it will take him nine more games to beat Jennings’s record.

However long Holzhauer’s impressive run lasts, he’s already cemented himself in the Jeopardy! record books. Below, we’re keeping track of where he currently ranks among the show’s legends.

Total Regular-Game Earnings

1. Ken Jennings: $2,520,700
2. James Holzhauer: $1,867,142
3. David Madden: $430,400
4. Julia Collins: $428,100
5. Matt Jackson: $411,612

Single-Game Winnings

1. James Holzhauer: $131,127 (April 17, 2019)
2. James Holzhauer: $118,816 (April 23, 2019)
3. James Holzhauer: $110,914 (April 9, 2019)
4. James Holzhauer: $106,181 (April 16, 2019)
5. James Holzhauer: $101,682 (May 1, 2019)

Consecutive Games Won

1. Ken Jennings: 74 games
2. James Holzhauer: 24 games
3. Julia Collins: 20 games
4. David Madden: 19 games
5. Matt Jackson: 13 games

All-Time Winnings, Including Tournaments

1. Brad Rutter: $4,688,440
2. Ken Jennings: $3,370,700
3. James Holzhauer: $1,867,142
4. David Madden: $773,733
5. Larissa Kelly: $660,930

Note: Data was pulled from the official Jeopardy! website and J! Archive, an online Jeopardy! database compiled by ardent fans of the show.

Will James Holzhauer Beat Ken Jennings’s Jeopardy! Record?