Naperville native James Holzhauer was on pace to break Ken Jennings’ all-time Jeopardy cash winnings record.
That was until Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher dethroned the champion in a stunning result.
Family, friends, and fans gathered at Two Brothers Barrel House to watch the episode.
“You know I look at it and took a deep breath and thought, ‘All good things come to an end. This had to happen one day,’” said Ian Holzhauer, James’ brother.
Some in the crowd, including Ian, were aware of the loss that morning, when the results were leaked on Twitter.
“Ian called me this morning because we’ve been planning this party together and he informed me that the possibility existed, although it was just a rumor and he didn’t know anything, hadn’t had anything confirmed or anything like that,” said Lisa Gangi, the organizer of the watch party.
Playing the Numbers
Some viewers were shocked that the notoriously aggressive-betting James only wagered $1399 in Final Jeopardy. Already behind Boettcher, James knew his best chance of winning was for her to answer incorrectly, and to not get caught by the third place contestant.
Unfortunately for him, Boettcher did know the answer and bet enough that James didn’t catch her, making her the new champion.
“To see a fellow Chicagoan to be the one to take him down was cool too. He wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Ian.
Not Done Yet
After the episode, Ian reminded the disappointed crowd that James would return for the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, and made one other promise.
“Someday he’ll eventually face Ken Jennings directly in an ultimate tournament of champions, that’s the truth and we can have another one of these.”
Holzhauer finished his run with the 16 highest-earning games in Jeopardy history and the second highest total ever, with more than $2.4 million earned.
Congratulations to James and thanks for two months of entertainment!
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.