Answers and questions have always been the process for contestants to play the popular game show Jeopardy! and now the show itself is beginning to have more questions than answers.
• Will contestant James Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler in Las Vegas, continue his winning streak over Jeopardy! record holder Ken Jennings?
• Will host Alex Trebek win his battle against stage 4 pancreatic cancer?
One question is certainly more “life and death” than the other, but the uncertainty of both are bringing unprecedented ratings to this syndicated TV show.
Jeopardy!, the third ranked TV show behind “Judge Judy” and “Wheel of Fortune,” has recently been the top-ranked TV show, according to USA Today.
As of Thursday evening, Holzhauer has won $2,382,583, less than $150,000 away from Jennings’ all-time Jeopardy! total of $2,520,700 million.
Jennings, of Seattle, Washington, holds the Jeopardy! record for the highest winnings in regular season play — $2,520,700, as well as the most consecutive games won — 74. Holzhauer is nearing Jennings’ record winnings in about a third of the time it took Jennings.
Holzhauer also holds the record for top single-game winnings with the $131,127 he won on the April 17 episode.
Once again, there are more questions than answers. Here are a few to think about before Monday’s show:
How does Holzhauer answer so fast?
With the Jeopardy! buzzer, timing is everything. Holzhauer paid special attention and asked a lot of questions about how the buzzer works during his first pre-show orientation. He also practiced at home after reading a book by a former champion who discussed techniques. He also stays calm and collected enough to wait until precisely when the buzzer device is usable with its “enable light” comes on before he clicks.
Why does Holzhauer bet so much?
As a professional sports gambler by trade, he’s not afraid to bet the farm. He is also confident because his response accuracy is 97 percent.
How is his strategy different than other players?
He builds up his cash reserves fast and early by hitting the big-bucks tiles first, rather than warming up with low-amount clues. This strategy and the fact he almost always gets the answers right allows him to make larger bets when he hits the Daily Doubles.
Has Holzhauer been on game shows before?
In 2014, he competed on “The Chase,” a show which pitted a professional trivia expert against regular people, like Holzhauer. He also appeared on the short-lived game show “500 Questions” in 2015, but couldn’t unseat trivia master Steve Bahnaman.
He tried out for Jeopardy! several times before getting on the show, taking the online test every year and auditioning twice. He waited almost two years from the audition until he got a call from Jeopardy! to be on the show.
His wife, Melissa, was on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in 2012 and won $28,800.
How did Holtzhauer learn trivia?
He said on the show that he gets a significant amount of trivia knowledge from children’s books, which are less boring than adult books and come with quick information on different subjects.
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is ‘beating the odds’
In a recent interview with PEOPLE magazine Alex Trebek said his stage 4 pancreatic cancer is in “near remission.” This is very good news for a disease that has a very poor prognosis. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer is about 50 percent and that number drops to 3 percent for stage 4 disease. Trebek, 78, has been host of Jeopardy! since 1984 and continues to work while undergoing chemotherapy.