“In late March we were at Lou Malnati’s when they were in town from Vegas and that’s where they kind of broke the news,” said Ian Holzhauer, James’ brother. “But I remember when the check came I was like ‘oh I’ll pick that up.’ And he and his wife were like ‘no, we’ll get that, it’s ok.’ And now I kind of understand why.”
It was no surprise to Naperville resident Ian Holzhauer that his younger brother James made it on Jeopardy. But the popularity he’s gained couldn’t have been predicted.
“We were at Hugo’s Frog Bar and it was really amazing,” said Ian. “The whole bar, people we didn’t even know were really cheering on James. And when he got his first Daily Double the place just erupted. So it’s been really neat to see the Naperville community come together.”
The brothers’ former AP European History teacher says James was never one for being in the limelight, but always knew the answers.
“He was fairly quiet in my class,” said Holly Lee, a retired teacher from Naperville North. “But I could always rely on him. If no one could answer the question, I would kind of look in his direction and he might sort of halfway raise his hand and give an answer.”
For the Love of Jeopardy
James now lives in Las Vegas where he works as a professional sports bettor. But his love of Jeopardy was born right here in Naperville.
“When my brother and I would get home from school, my brother’s two favorite things to do in the afternoon were either watch the Cubs or to watch Jeopardy,” added Ian. “And he would do that with my grandmother. And my grandmother emigrated from Japan to come help raise us. She didn’t speak a lot of English so my brother said she didn’t really understand the clues, but she would just like spending the time with him. So he had said he always promised her that one day he would be on Jeopardy and make her proud.”
Currently with over $1 million in winnings, James is the second highest Jeopardy winner of all time. He also holds several of the top slots for highest single-day winnings.
To catch the all-time winner Ken Jennings, he’ll need to get past $2.52 million.
Ian Holzhauer also serves on NCTV17’s board. He was also a previous contestant on NCTV’s game show Game On!
And you can watch our previous story we did on James when he was first on the rise on Jeopardy.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.