Former “Jeopardy!” juggernaut James Holzhauer won easily in his return Wednesday on the game show’s Tournament of Champions. “Jeopardy James did what he did so often in his initial streak,” host Alex Trebek said. “He turned the game into a runaway.”
But the Las Vegas-based sports gambler still couldn’t let go of the criticism he received after his 32-game winning streak ended at the hands of Emma Boettcher in a June episode. Viewers at the time were surprised by his conservative (though strategically correct) bet in the final round, spouting conspiracy theories that he threw the match. (Holzhauer has vehemently denied the claims.)
Fast-forward to Wednesday’s episode. Holzhauer, known for his risky style in amassing several single-game earnings records during his reign, had a few moments of cautious play.
Like this one in which he teased Trebek and viewers into thinking he was going to bet big on a Daily Double but did not. That prompted a good-natured, “You toy with me, sir,” from the host:
And while holding a lead into Final Jeopardy that was so large he could have bet several thousand and still won no matter what his opponents did, he wagered a mere $326, for a nephew’s March 26 birthday.
He finished with $30,635 on Wednesday night’s broadcast, a far cry from the six $100,000-plus games he logged in his streak to $2.46 million in winnings, but a victory is a victory.
Anticipating that he would be criticized for his tiny wager in at the end, Holzhauer clapped back at potential doubters Wednesday night. “Time for another round of ‘why did James bet so small?’ conspiracy theories,” he wrote.
Holzhauer advanced to the semifinals. Boettcher, who ended his run, plays on Thursday.