The streak is over.
University of Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher defeated reigning “Jeopardy” champ James Holzhauer in Monday night’s episode, ending his winning streak at 32 games and just shy of Ken Jennings’ record $2.52 million from his 2004 streak.
Her secret? Years of preparation, bold Daily Double bets and a lightning-fast buzzer finger.
In other words, she beat Holzhauer at his own game.
While Holzhauer honed his skills on different game shows, Boettcher is a longtime “Jeopardy” obsessive who even did her master’s thesis on its trivia questions. The 27-year-old played along at home for years, using a pen for a buzzer and recording answers in a notebook, The New York Times reported. She calculated her percentage of correct answers for regular questions as well as the Daily Double.
“I knew going in that Daily Double hunting was something that I could do and feel confident doing,” Boettcher told the Times. “I don’t need to be cautious around that.”
That confidence allowed her to place big bets on the Daily Double, something Holzhauer was known for doing in order to jump out to big leads.
On Twitter, Holzhauer pointed out the irony of the situation given that some predicted his reign would end when one of those big Daily Double bets backfired:
Since the episode was taped in March, Holzhauer was not yet a household name. So when he was introduced at the start of the taping along with all of his winnings, Boettcher realized what she was up against. Then, she tried to focus on playing the game the way she had prepared.
“I knew going in that I’d have to play someone that had won at least one game,” Boettcher told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “So I just tried to put myself in the mindset that whether his win streak was one game or 32, I still have to go out there and put all these years of love for the show and trivia to good use.”
Boettcher won, but she didn’t get to savor the victory. “Jeopardy” has an aggressive taping schedule and she immediately had to begin prep for the next round ― her first as defending champion.
“I had to keep my nerves, keep my energy very level so that I could sustain what I was doing,” she told the Chicago Tribune.
Twitter users honored the new champ, starting with a tribute from the man she defeated: