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Las Vegan James Holzhauer reaches finals of ‘Jeopardy!’ tournament

Updated November 12, 2019 - 7:38 pm

The rematch “Jeopardy!” fans have been waiting for is set.

James Holzhauer will take on Emma Boettcher and the winner of Wednesday’s Tournament of Champions last semifinal Thursday and Friday in the two-day championship match.

Holzhauer, a Las Vegas-based professional sports bettor, had his 32-game win streak on the quiz show ended by Boettcher, a Chicago librarian, on June 3. Holzhauer earned $2.46 million and finished less than $60,000 shy of breaking Ken Jennings’ regular play earnings mark of $2.52 million set during his 74-game win streak in 2004.

Holzhauer won his semifinal match Tuesday with $30,156 to advance to the final against Boettcher, who won her semifinal Monday with $29,601.

“The only difference between Emma and any other opponent is that she’s way better at ‘Jeopardy!’” Holzhauer said Tuesday in an email. “I just wanted to play my best, and I knew it wouldn’t help my concentration to be preoccupied with thoughts of revenge.

“I did have a goal to qualify for the ToC before I started setting records on the show, so it feels great to be on that big stage.”

It’s the first regular-season rematch in a ToC championship match since 2006, when Vik Vaz and Bill MacDonald played in the final after Vaz beat MacDonald in the regular season, according to Andy Saunders, who runs the website thejeopardyfan.com. Both players lost to Michael Falk.

Holzhauer, 35, built an insurmountable lead Tuesday before Final Jeopardy, with $30,466 to Steven Grade’s $11,400. So it didn’t matter when Holzhauer’s 28-game streak of correctly answering Final Jeopardy ended.

He lost $310 on Final Jeopardy, and his competitors each wagered $0. The clue was “In 2018, Forbes said this “belt’s demographic delight is” this other “belt’s demographic dilemma.”

The correct answer was “Sun and Rust.” Holzhauer wrote “What is Bible & Rust,” though he wrote “Sun” before “Bible” and crossed it out.

The champion will be determined by aggregate score in the two-day final. First prize is $250,000, second place is $100,000 and third $50,000.

“Jeopardy!” airs at 7 p.m. weekdays on KLAS-8.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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