James Holzhauer became the second person to win more than $2 million on “Jeopardy!” in regular play Friday when he won his 27th consecutive game on the show.
Holzhauer’s $74,400 victory increased his winnings to $2,065,535. The only other player to earn more than $2 million is Ken Jennings of Edmonds, Washington, who won $2,520,700 during his record 74-game winning streak in 2004.
“It sounds a little cheeky, but round numbers don’t mean that much to me,” Holzhauer wrote in an email to the Review-Journal. “I could have bet nothing — or even 30 thousand instead of 35 — in today’s Final Jeopardy and guaranteed hitting $2 million, but I wasn’t willing to throw away so much expected value in order to do so.
“Even Ken’s record is only a number, though an incredible one.”
Holzhauer, a 34-year-old Las Vegas professional sports gambler, set a record score for after the “Jeopardy!” round of $24,600 on Friday en route to the 17th-highest one-day total in the 35-year history of the show. He now owns 18 of the top 20 highest one-day totals, according to thejeopardyfan.com.
During his 27-game run, Holzhauer has answered correctly 977 of 1,008 times. He’s 59 of 63 on Daily Doubles (for net earnings of $545,654) and is 26 of 27 on Final Jeopardy, where he’s been correct on his last 21 clues. He’s also been first on the buzzer 58 percent of the time (884 of 1,521).
The prediction model on thejeopardyfan.com gives Holzhauer an 89 percent chance to surpass Jennings’ winnings mark. It also gives him a 51 percent chance to surpass Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native Brad Rutter’s winnings record, tournaments included, of $4,688,436.
At his current average, Holzhauer would pass Jennings on June 3 and Rutter on July 26.
The show resumes at 7 p.m. Monday on KLAS-TV, Channel 8.