James Holzhauer entered Final Jeopardy in unfamiliar territory on Monday night: second place.
Yet, despite having $23,400 to risk on “Jeopardy,” he made a bet of just $1,399 ― not enough to catch up to rival Emma Boettcher, who was in first place with $26,600.
“By the time Final Jeopardy rolled around I knew my goose was cooked if Emma answered correctly,” Holzhauer told The Atlantic. “It’s a little like needing a team to miss a last-second field goal ― nothing you can really do but watch. I made peace with my fate before the clue for Final was even revealed.”
Given that his fate depended on her botching the final question, Holzhauer’s strategy would give him a shot at winning if she got it wrong and at worst keep him in second place.
She won, and Holzhauer’s streak came to an end just short of the ultimate record: He finished less than $60,000 shy of the $2.52 million record total haul by “Jeopardy” champ Ken Jennings during his 2004 run.
On the other hand, Jennings needed a 74-game winning streak to achieve those winnings; Holzhauer nearly matched him in a 32-game streak thanks to his larger Daily Double bets.
But if there were any hard feelings, he certainly didn’t show it: Holzhauer gave Boettcher a high-five immediately after she was declared the winner, and he hailed her victory on Twitter: