James Holzhauer reached another “Jeopardy!” milestone during Friday’s episode, becoming the second contestant ever to eclipse $2 million in regular-play winnings.
Holzhauer, a 34-year-old sports bettor from Las Vegas, cruised to his 27th straight win Friday, racking up $74,400 to push his overall winnings to $2,065,535.
In 2004, Ken Jennings won $2,520,700 during a 74-game winning streak. Holzhauer is on pace to catch Jennings in just six more episodes.
Holzhauer survived a close call Thursday in a game that came down to a decisive Final Jeopardy! He didn’t have much of a sweat Friday. He finished the opening round with $24,600, a show record.
Holzhauer had $39,400 heading into Final Jeopardy! and was way out of range of the other competitors. Susan Waller, a school administrator from Chester, Pennsylvania, was in second place heading into Final Jeopardy! with $1,800.
Holzhauer risked $35,000 on Final Jeopardy! and correctly responded to the clue, “Astronomy buffs visit Idaho for the USA’s first dark sky reserve; oddly part of it is this resort area with a bright name” with “What is Sun Valley?”
As a joke, he wrote Las Vegas Strip with a strike-though over it, next to his correct response, which sent him over the $2 million mark.
“It sounds a little cheeky,” Holzhauer told ESPN in an email Friday, “but round numbers don’t mean that much to me. I could have bet nothing-or even 30 thousand instead of 35-in today’s Final Jeopardy and guaranteed hitting that milestone, but I wasn’t willing to throw away so much expected value in order to do so.”
Holzhauer, who grew up Illinois as a diehard fan of Chicago teams, has captured the attention of the sports world. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has tweeted about him, and executives for multiple Major League Baseball teams have publicly expressed interest in Holzhauer.
During banter with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek during Friday’s episode, Holzhauer said he had always been interested in running a baseball team, but added that dream was before he knew “Jeopardy!” contestant could be a profitable career.