Naperville native James Holzhauer is the first-ever Jeopardy! Masters champion

Naperville native James Holzhauer holding the Jeopardy! Masters Champion trophy.
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A Naperville native made history last night after a tough final question helped him become the first Jeopardy! Masters champion.

James Holzhauer, who’s come to be known as Jeopardy! James, took the win in the final episode of the first edition of the series.

A close final competition

Some of the most accomplished Jeopardy! players in recent history competed in the Jeopardy! Masters competition. The event started with six players, and last night, Naperville native James Holzhauer competed in the finals against two other all-time greats: Mattea Roach and Matt Amodio. The final was not like a standard game of Jeopardy!, as it was across two games, with the player earning the highest combined score being crowned champion.

At the end of the first game, Holzhauer was in a commanding lead at 34,314 points. Behind him was Roach with 24,800 and Amodio with 12,000.

The final Jeopardy! question of game two, found Holzhauer in a deep hole to Mattea Roach, who had 22,800 points compared to his 9,600. The final category of the night was “Latin in Literature,” for which all three contestants did not know the final answer. Amodio decided not to wager anything and he remained at 3,200 points for the game. His total score was 15,200, good enough for third place and $150,000.

Jeopardy! James and Roach both guessed wrong, but Roach wagered 5,815 points and Jeopardy! James bet a little safer. Roach’s game-two score dropped to 16,855, leaving their combined score at 41,685.

Holzhauer’s score for the second game fell to 9,481, but his combined score of 43,795 was enough to stay at the top of the leaderboard and become the first winner of Jeopardy! Masters.

Holzhauer won $500,000 in addition to a $100,000 donation to Project 150. Amodio took home $250,000 in second place. All three contestants are invited back next year, for the next edition of Jeopardy! Masters.

James gives a special Naperville shout-out

Though James now lives in Las Vegas, he gave a shout-out to Naperville on the program last night, after being asked if there was anyone special he’d like to note.

“You know I’ve talked about Las Vegas a lot, but I don’t really shout out my childhood home of Naperville, Illinois where I still have a lot of friends and family rooting me on,” said Holzhauer.

He went on to tell a story about the last time he was back in Naperville and was out having lunch with his brother. As a stranger approached their table, James was readying for it to be a fan in recognition of his Jeopardy! fame. But instead, the person said, “Excuse me, are you Ian Holzhauer, Naperville city councilman?”

Turns out James’ brother Ian has a bit of fame of his own. According to James, the moment was a big hit with Ian. “It made his life,” James said.

Photo courtesy: Sony Pictures Television/ABC

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