James Holzhauer Biography
Sun Sign: Cancer
Born Country: United States
Born in: Naperville, Illinois, United States
Famous as: Game Show Contestant
Height: 1.73 m
Spouse/Ex-: Melissa Holzhauer (m. 2012)
father: Juergen Holzhauer
mother: Nachiko Ide Holzhauer
U.S. State: Illinois
education: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
James Holzhauer is an American game show contestant and professional sports gambler who is best known for his 32-game winning streak on the trivia game show 'Jeopardy!' Between April and June 2019, he participated in 33 episodes of the show, earning a total of $2,464,216 in prize money and becoming the fourth highest-earning American game show contestant of all time. He is the third highest-earning contestant on 'Jeopardy!' behind Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. His winning streak was finally halted on June 3, 2019, after he lost to challenger Emma Boettcher on his 33rd game on the show. Due to his enormous success on the show, he has been nicknamed 'Jeopardy James'. He had previously participated on other game shows like 'The Chase' and '500 Questions'. Starting out as a gambler at a card club during his student years, he now professionally bets on baseball, NFL and college basketball matches. He donated $10,000 to a Las Vegas organization for displaced teens in April 2019.
- At the age of four, James Holzhauer had surprised his teacher with his arithmetic abilities, prompting the teacher to develop advanced coursework for him. At seven, he skipped second grade at his mother's urging, and moved up to a fifth-grade math class. While he got straight A's in math and competed on the Naperville North High School math team, his overall grade remained C as he often skipped classes to do things like playing online poker. In fact, he spent so much time in memorizing statistics about games like baseball and professional wrestling that his parents had to reprimand him for "wasting his life". However, as part of the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Team, he got first place in physics and second in math to help win the state competition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- He made his first game show appearance on the quiz show 'The Chase' on September 2, 2014, and immediately created a 12-answer record on the one-minute segment 'Cash Builder', which remained unbeaten till the show ended. He also answered 19 questions for his team in the 'Final Chase' round to make a record that remained unbeaten. He made his first appearance on 'Jeopardy!' on April 4, 2019, and had a phenomenal run for the next two months during which he won 32 consecutive games and earned over $2.46 million in prize money.
- Within two months, James Holzhauer created several records on 'Jeopardy!' that remain unbeaten even though his winning streak is broken. On his first appearance, he won the largest single-game total of $43,680 for the season till then. On April 9, 2019, he not only surpassed his previous earning, but also broke the all-time single-game winning record of $77,000 by Roger Craig with his $110,914 win. He repeated this feat 15 more times in the next couple months, and set the new highest single-game win record of $131,127 on April 17, 2019. He is also the only participant to win over $100,000 in one episode, which he achieved six times. He became particularly known for going after high-value clues first and for waging aggressively when he hit a Daily Double. Interestingly, his 32-win streak was stopped by challenger Emma Boettcher, who also employed a similar strategy. While he had surprised many by waging a meager $1,399 against her $20,201 in the Final Jeopardy of the July 3, 2019 episode, his opponent later told in an interview that she was not surprised as this was a predictable move by the books. He did answer the final clue correctly, but his low wager stopped him from retaining the title.
- James Holzhauer was born in July 1984 in Naperville, Illinois, United States, to Juergen Holzhauer and Nachiko Ide Holzhauer. His father is a German immigrant who worked as an engineer at a chemical company for 32 years. He has an elder brother named Ian who is as an attorney. According to Ian, as a child, James never needed a calculator. He has a nephew named Jack, whose birth date was used by him to wager $3,268 on Final Jeopardy on his first day on the show.
- As a child, James often watched 'Jeopardy!' with his Japanese grandmother, who had relocated to the US to help raise her grandchildren. While she could not follow the show as she understood little English, he had promised her that he will be on the show one day. He dedicated his highest win of $131,127 on the show to his late grandmother.
- James Holzhauer married fellow trivia champion Melissa Sassin on September 8, 2012. She is a tutor from Seattle, Washington. She won $28,800 as a participant on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' in 2014. They have a daughter named Natasha, born on November 9, 2014.
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