How James Holzhauer Won 2 Million Dollars

Logo of popular tv show, where James Holzhauer contributed to his $2 million.

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Logo of popular tv show, where James Holzhauer contributed to his $2 million.

James Holzhauer, as of May 30th, has won over $2,382,583 on the game show Jeopardy. Jeopardy is a TV show hosted by Alex Trebek in which contestants answer difficult questions the average person wouldn’t know the answer to. Contestants can choose a selection of subjects to choose from. Prices range from two-hundred dollars to a thousand dollars in price, with the least expensive having the most straightforward questions and the more expensive having the hardest questions. In its 35th season, James Holzhauer joined the show and ended up winning almost every game leaving with around seventy-eight thousand. That’s more than the average salary in the United States. Here’s how he pulled it off this amazing feat.  


This isn’t the first time James has been on a game show. Back in 2012, James was on The Chase, a quiz show originally from the UK. On the show, Holzhauer went against three regular people. Mark Labbett, a chaser on the show, described Holzhauer in an interview as “the worst beating he’s ever had.” A few months later, James made an appearance in the 3rd episode of the short-lived 500 Questions. Going against a trivia champion, Steve Bahnaman, he wasn’t able to win. He’s tried numerous times to get onto Jeopardy, participating in the Jeopardy test every year. The interview for Jeopardy was challenging, as James said, “You know, I’ve never successfully interviewed for a job before in my life – I’ve never had to, and I don’t know whether I have the skills necessary to succeed in that part of the world. But I’m very happy they called this time! I think I had to wait about 23 months from my audition.”


James has mastered Jeopardy in many ways. First, he has learned the buzzer. Jeopardy’s buzzer is one of the most prominent aspects of the game, with contestants having to click the button as fast as possible. The buzzer works by a staff member enabling the light, which signals players can press the buzzer. If contestants press the buzzer too early, then players will be locked out for a quarter of a second, plenty of time for another contestant to buzz in. Many contestants motion their hand downwards while clicking the button, or fidget with the button by rapidly clicking. The problem is the fastest way is not clicking quickly or motioning a hand downwards. Instead, the quickest way is to place arms criss-cross with the buzzer in one hand. This way, there aren’t any unnecessary movements when pressing the buzzer. When Holzhauer does this, he also knows when Alex Trebek, the host, is done speaking. Typically, this is a difficult task, as Trebek is known for adding unnecessary sounds at the end of speaking.


Going against Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings, James is also going big. Instead of going downwards as he answers questions, he goes upwards. This way, he receives the high priced questions to uncover something else. The daily double is a question, hidden at random. Throughout the years, analysts have gathered data about daily double and found most of the time they’re located near the bottom. When James collects high priced questions from the bottom, he’s able to increase his earnings during daily doubles. His average daily double bet is three times more than the average player. During Final Jeopardy, James can bet high wagers without worrying his opponents taking him over.


All in all, James Holzhauer has brought a new play style into game shows. Instead of a more casual play, he’s introduced a more aggressive play, going for highly prized and challenging questions. He’s also mastered many aspects of the game, such as the buzzer. James is currently on his way to beating Ken Jennings in half of the time.