Ken Jennings is still the gold standard of Jeopardy! contestants, his 74-game winning streak the likely unattainable yardstick by which all subsequent players have been judged. But the current Jeopardy! champ is a close second—quite literally: He’s now the second-place earner behind Jennings.
Not only that, he’s absolutely annihilating all comers when it comes to his daily winnings. James Holzhauer, who won his eighth game in a row on Monday night with a haul of $45, 444 in earnings, just surpassed 19-game winner Dave Madden to enter the second-place spot in normal Jeopardy! competition (i.e., not counting special episodes or tournaments) prize money. As of the most recent victory, he’s earned $460, 479, which is coming pretty close to what we would call “fuck you” amounts of money. As Decider notes, Holzhauer almost tripled the amount racked up by the next closest contestant yesterday, but that’s not even the most impressive part: Only three days into his run, the Las Vegas resident set the new record for highest one-day cash winnings with a prize of $110, 914. That’s a number more akin to what it takes most people who make it to the Tournament Of Champions a week to earn, marking him as the kind of guy who probably walks into a casino and loudly says, “Oh, what the hey, as long as I’m here,” and throws a thousand dollars on a random roulette number right before it comes up.
As a professional sports gambler, Holzhauer’s strategy (other than being very good at buzzing in and mostly knowing the answers) has been to bet huge on Daily Doubles, and it’s worked extremely well. To put it in perspective: Ken Jennings won $2,520,700 over the course of 74 games. James has won roughly one-fifth to one-sixth of that amount in one-ninth the time. In other words, at this rate, he’ll equal Jennings’ winnings in about half the number of games the previous Jeopardy! champ won. In unrelated news, members of Holzhauer’s extended family are suddenly very eager to catch up with him, maybe plan a weekend trip together.
[UPDATED 4/17, 7:30 p.m.: Jesus christ, Holzhauer just broke his own one-day winnings record: On today’s show, he walked away with $131,127, or more than twenty thousand dollars in excess of his previous record of $110,914, which he set only a week ago. That brings his total prize money on the show to $696,787. And this, need we remind you, is after only ten wins. We will continue to update you as Holzhauer continues to be a fucking badass.]