Much has been made of James Holzhauer’s domination on Jeopardy!, and his success has many dreaming of a quiz bowl matchup of two titans of the game. The pro sports bettor from Las Vegas is cruising his way through the show unlike anyone else in history. But much like in baseball, a hot month of hitting .400 is much different than being Ted Williams in 1941.
Which is why when Holzhauer started turning heads with jaw-dropping single-day win totals, the next name that immediately came up was Ken Jennings. The 74-day Jeopardy! champion holds the record for most money earned in show history — more than $2.5 million. But Holzhauer is rapidly coming for that number, obliterating the number for most money earned in a single episode twice over and now averaging more money won per episode — $73,000 — than nearly anyone had won in a single game before he showed up on the soundstage.
Jennings has already said he’d be in an “uphill battle” against Holzhauer if the two were to square off, noting that Jeopardy! is a “young person’s game” and he has not trained to be on the show as recently as Holzhauer. But he certainly didn’t say no to the hypothetical offer, and he said he’s rooting for him to go on a run like his.
Holzhauer, too, has been asked about a showdown with Jennings and it turns out he’s in as well. He appeared on the Dan Patrick Show last week to talk about his run, which was then at 11 games.
Current @Jeopardy champion James Holzhauer is dominating in a way that few have, he called in to talk his strategy of betting big + potential of a match-up with @KenJennings pic.twitter.com/5BIsDehr8r
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) April 19, 2019
Holzhauer described how he prepared for the show and how he doesn’t want to intimidate people with his high roller mentality on the show. Patrick then asked if he wanted “a piece” of Ken Jennings, which made Holzhauer laugh.
“In what arena?” Holzhauer asked, before Patrick clarified that he wants to see them go head to head on Jeopardy!. Holzhauer was hesitant, but said he’d be into it. He did say he’s down for a “death match” though.
“Yeah, uh, I mean Jeopardy! is a three player game so I’d expect a third player would be invited,” Holzhauer said. “But I’d love to have a chance to have a death match with him, I guess we’ll call it.”
It’s not completely unprecedented to have less than three human beings on stage. In 2011, Jennings and another Jeopardy! champion — Brad Rutter, who once held the highest single-day win mark on the show — faced off against an artificial inteligence made by IBM called Watson. So technically there were just two players on the show along with a supercomputer.
Still, Holzhauer is into a showdown between him, Jennings and whoever the folks at Jeopardy! decide should be on the stage with Alex Trebek. And, of course, he already knows the betting odds on a potential matchup.
“There’s an offshore site that started taking bets on a potential matchup between me and him and they made me the favorite,” Holzhauer said, though he made it clear that he wouldn’t bet on himself because it would be a “conflict of interest.”
While Holzhauer’s secret is his willingness to bet huge numbers on Daily Doubles and wager much of his winning margin in Final Jeopardy, the numbers true Jeopardy! statheads say show the strength of a contestant are dead even. That’s the Coryat score, named after a former Jeopardy! contestant who suggested the best way to measure the worthiness of a Jeopardy! player is to measure how much they won minus their wagers. In other words, without Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy — where Holzhauer makes an overwhelming amount of his money.
Still, take away the big bets and Holzhauer and Jennings are remarkably similar players. According to TheJeopardyFan.com, the two have remarkably similar Coryat scores: Holzhauer is at $29,431 while Jennings is at $29,154 through 13 games played.
There are a lot of fun comparisons to be had on the numbers Holzhauer and Jennings put up more than a decade apart, but the biggest stat that stands out from the chart is this: through 13 episodes, Holzhauer has made $281,150 off of just Daily Doubles. On Tuesday, Jeopardy! teased Holzhauer’s quest for $1 million in earnings. WILL HE DO IT?!?
James is quickly approaching $1,000,000 in total winnings. Will he go the distance? Tune in to find out! pic.twitter.com/GS4G5Tyara
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) April 23, 2019
Yes, of course he will. In fact, Holzhauer had the second-highest single earnings day in show history on Tuesday, winning $118,816 for a 14-day total of $1,061,554. That’s more than $1 million won in just seven hours of television, well on his way to catching Jennings’ lofty earnings goal. On Tuesday, Holzhauer once again got all three Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy and had an absurd $20,000 after the first Jeopardy! round.