James Holzhauer's 'Jeopardy!' streak ends after 32 wins

What is: 2nd winningest player ever? Ken Jennings' $2.5M record barely holds.

June 3, 2019, 7:51 PM

For $2.4 million, what nearly record-breaking run on Jeopardy! was ended Monday night?

Following 32 straight wins, longtime "Jeopardy!" champion James Holzhauer was defeated on Monday's show.

Holzhauer was dethroned by librarian Emma Boettcher when the pair both correctly answered the Final Jeopardy question, about the death of a famous author.

Professional gambler Holzhauer was one game away from toppling Ken Jennings' longstanding $2.5 million record. Holzhauer ended his run just $58,484 shy of Jennings’ record winnings.

"Nobody likes to lose. But I’m very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show," he told The New York Times, "So I don't feel bad about it."

Aggressive wagering was part of Holzhauer's winning formula. Boettcher kept up with him during the game and out-bet him in the end.

The gambler, who high-fived Boettcher after she took first place, also noted, "I lost to a really top-level competitor. She played a perfect game. And that was what it took to beat me."

"Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings responded to the defeat on Twitter.

Buzzy Cohen, who won the 2017 Tournament of Champions, told ABC News' "Start Here" podcast that Holzhauer's defeat was "inevitable," comparing it to "death and taxes."

"I think what was different was that he had two opponents in there that for whatever reason were able to get in on the buzzer a little more aggressively," Cohen said, noting that because it was a Monday show, the other competitors would not have spend half the day watching Holzhauer compete against other contestants.

"They tape I think three in the morning and then two in the afternoon. And so if you're playing let's say a Wednesday or Thursday show you've just sat in the audience and watched. In this case, James Holzhauer, you know, just pummeled some other people who are really smart because you know what it takes to get on this show," Cohen said. "It definitely seemed more like you know the ball was back in, the buzzer ball so to speak, was bouncing around a lot more than in a lot of his games and part of that, you know, could be that it's a Monday show," Cohen said.

Brad Rutter, who is the all-time leading money winner on the show, argued that Holzhauer's final "Jeopardy!" bet was "absolutely perfect" because "you also had to worry about Jay in third place coming up if he was the only one to get it right."

Rutter told "Start Here" that either way, the Watson computer, which defeated Rutter and Ken Jennings, would destroy all competitors, including Holzhauer.

The "Jeopardy!" episode aired Monday night on ABC in most markets.

ABC News' Brad Mielke and David Rind contributed to this report.

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