“Jeopardy James” is back.
James Holzhauer, the 35-year-old professional gambler from Las Vegas who won 32 straight games earlier this year, returned to the “Jeopardy!” stage Wednesday night for the 2019 Tournament of Champions.
Holzhauer handily bested his opponents, physician Lindsey Shultz of Pennsylvania and software development manager Alan Dunn of Georgia, in the third matchup of the game show’s 2-week-long tournament.
The episode ended with Holzhauer — who has won the second-most consecutive regular-season games in the iconic program’s history, after Ken Jennings’ 74 — racking up $30,635.
Shultz ended up with $14,000 on the podium, and Dunn a measly $1.
Holzhauer’s total non-tournament winnings of $2,464,216 were just shy of “Jeopardy!” legend Jennings’ all-time record of $2,520,700.
After the first two rounds, Holzhauer had $30,309 to Shultz’s $10,800 and Dunn’s $6,000. Even if Shultz doubled her money, she still wouldn’t catch Holzhauer if he wagered conservatively.
“iJeopardy James’ did what he did so often in his initial streak,” Trebek said, before revealing the Final Jeopardy Clue. “He turned the game into a runaway. There is no way he can be caught.”
The Tournament of Champions occurs every few years; in this iteration, which runs until Nov. 15, 15 contestants from the last two seasons — including Emma Boettcher, the Chicago librarian who beat Holzhauer and plays her first match on Thursday night — will battle it out for $250,000.
Wednesday night’s victory means Holzhauer — the married father of 4-year-old Natasha — will play again next week against the other four winners of this week’s games plus whichever four competitors earned the highest dollar-value scores.
Beloved host Alex Trebek couldn’t resist cracking jokes upon Holzhauer’s return.
“Which $1,000 clue are you going to go for first?” Trebek teased Holzhauer, referring to his strategy of starting at the bottom of the board and working his way up, the opposite of most contestants.
Throughout his streak, Holzhauer targeted the expensive clues and Daily Doubles, as well as bet aggressively at very opportunity — and Wednesday night’s Tournament of Champions game was no exception.
All contestants wore purple ribbons in honor of Larry Martin, the winner of 2018’s “Jeopardy!” Teachers Tournament. In January, Martin passed away from pancreatic cancer, the same disease that Trebek has been fighting.
This isn’t Holzhauer’s first stab at game show glory. While he struck out on ABC’s “500 Questions” four years ago, he and two teammates pocketed $175,000 on “The Chase” in 2014. The 12 consecutive correct answers he delivered in an early round and 19 consecutive correct answers in a later round set an all-time record for that short-lived show, which aired between 2013 and 2015 on the Game Show Network.