Has this $1M winner broken 'Jeopardy!'?

Has this $1M winner broken 'Jeopardy!'?

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Speed read

What’s happening: James Holzhauer, a 34-year-old professional gambler from Las Vegas, has mounted a  in recent weeks on “Jeopardy!” during which he has racked up more than  over 21 games. He now owns the  in “Jeopardy!” history, including the single game record of $131,127.

Holzhauer employs an  that breaks from the more traditional approach of selecting the lower-value, easier questions that’s been the norm for most contestants since the daily syndicated show’s 1984 debut. He uses  to take control of the board, then goes after the highest-value questions first and bets big when he tracks down a Daily Double, often building an insurmountable lead before his competitors even get on the board. One competitor described the experience as running “.”

Why there’s debate: Holzhauer’s success has drawn a lot of attention to the show.  as viewers flock to marvel at his mastery. But his sheer dominance has sparked criticism too, with some suggesting he’s sucking the competitive joy from the game and charging that his massive leads undercut the thrilling tension of tightly contested Final Jeopardy! rounds.

There’s also concern that the “Jeopardy!” budget may not be able to sustain his massive payouts and any boost in the show’s popularity will be offset by the sheer dollar amount Holzhauer will reap before he ultimately loses.

What’s next: Holzhauer is rapidly approaching the all-time regular season record of  set by Ken Jennings, who gained national acclaim during his run of 74 consecutive wins in 2004. At his current pace, Holzhauer would reach Jennings’s total for largest winnings during regular season play after just 35 games. With more than , Holzhauer is more than halfway there.


Night after night of one-sided games is bad TV

“This run represents a bit of a producing challenge. If every episode is a blowout in which two of three contestants are basically never competitive, does that not grow uninteresting over time?” — Daniel D’Addario, 

The spectacle of Holzhauer’s dominance is remarkable to watch

“His precision with the buzzer, his instant recall, his encyclopedic knowledge, his daredevil wagering — his dominance is eerily superhuman. It’s as if Michael Jordan played hoops with a jetpack. Or Wayne Gretzky fired pucks out of a bazooka.” — Vinay Menon, 

“I’m very excited. As a fan of the show, I’m actually rooting for James or anybody who can take a swing at that record. It’s bizarre to me that it’s still a one-off.” — “Jeopardy!” legend Ken Jennings to Brian Barrett, 

Paying out so much money could hurt the show financially

“Typically, for a long-running show the prize budget is determined by way of averages of what has been won in the past. ... James’s performance, I’m sure, is causing grief for an accountant somewhere.” — Bob Boden, former head of programming at Game Show Network, to Joe Pinsker, 

Holzhauer is exactly what the internet water cooler needed

“Does it matter if Holzhauer broke the show? After all, we’re in an era where television is more fractured than ever. Big TV events are increasingly rare, and it’s refreshing to have one topic to discuss around the virtual water cooler of the Internet ... and know what everyone is talking about without being helplessly lost in a tangle of complicated storylines, mythology and drama.” — Emily Yahr, 

He broke ‘Jeopardy!’ and that’s a good thing

“Holzhauer has found a way to break the game, and rack up money at a rate nobody has seen before. He might be the most exciting game show participant of all time, and that alone has turned ‘Jeopardy!’ into the most anticipated show after ‘Game of Thrones.’” — James Dator, 

His bold style is inspiring

“His style and approach demonstrate that success is often the product of taking chances in life. Not necessarily dangerous risks, like walking a tightrope between skyscrapers — but rather taking informed, calculated and yes, gutsy chances now and again.” — Paul Batura, 

The boost to ratings is overstated

“While Holzhauer’s historic run has given ‘Jeopardy!’ a decent pre-upfront lift, his torrid streak has in no way brought the show to the brink of a ratings record.” — Anthony Crupi, 

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