The Jeopardy Goat


Emailed on April 26th, 2019 in The Friday Forward

If you're a Jeopardy fan like many of us in the Malartu office, you already know this, but for the rest of you let me introduce you to the new Jeopardy "goat": James Holzhauer.

During Thursday’s game, he came in first place with a total of $90,812 after he was the only one to correctly answer the Final Jeopardy question.

This extends his win streak to 16 days, putting his total winnings at $1,225,987.

Holzhauer has been a record breaking contestant, becoming only the second person to hit the million dollar mark during regular season play, and doing so in the fastest amount of time.

He's not just breaking records, he is smashing them. He’s winning more than twice as much per game as the Jeopardy legend Ken Jennings did during a record-setting 2004 run on the show. And Holzhauer’s highest daily prize yet, $131,127, exceeds the previous record holder’s one-day sum by more than $50,000.

You can read a full breakdown of his strategy here, but here's what I've gathered:

  • He is the best at trivia: “He doesn’t appear to have any [subject-area] weaknesses, which is very rare—a genuine all-rounder,” says trivia expert Mark Labbett

  • He has the fastest recall: “Good quizzers often need a couple of seconds to think of the answer,” Labbett said. “James doesn’t.”

  • He has the best strategy: “I know a lot of very good trivia players who would never be able to work out the complex wagers that he does on the Daily Double, because they just wouldn’t be able to think as fast as that.”

Consider these points but also that Holzhauer appears to have mastered Jeopardy's historically finicky buzzer. It's pretty unclear how he is ever going to lose.

Sean Steigerwald