On Memorial Day, James Holzhauer was busy defended his reign on “Jeopardy!” And he didn’t exactly take it easy.
On Monday’s episode, Holzhauer notched his 28th consecutive win with $130,222, building on the $74,400 that put him over the $2 million mark on Friday. Monday’s tally was just shy of his one-day record of $131,127, set April 9.
And he did it in commanding fashion. By the end of Double Jeopardy, Holzhauer was miles ahead of his competitors, who finished the round with $6,600 and $6,200.
That made the Final Jeopardy clue about “Games” – presumably an easy subject for the champ – all but a formality. And the question, which all of the contestants knew – “What is Life?” – summed up everything.
When you’re competing against a professional gambler with $72,022 in his pot, a usually tidy $13,195 just isn’t going to win the day.
Holzhauer is just the second contestant to pass the $2 million mark in regular game play, joining Ken Jennings, who piled up $2,520,700 by the time his 74-win run ended in 2004.
Astoundingly, Holzhauer, a Las Vegas-based professional sports gambler, reached the $2 million threshold in just 27 episodes. His total after Monday’s game now sits at $2,195,557.
Holzhauer explained his aggressive clue selection and wagering approach to The New York Times last month.
“You can see as soon as I get control of the board in the first game, I’m going for the $1,000 clues whenever I have the opportunity,” he said, likening his approach to a poker strategy. “There are big advantages to having a lot of chips early on in a poker tournament. You can make plays that other people can’t.”
“I thought I had seen everything on ‘Jeopardy!’ And this is something I would have thought was just impossible, these numbers,” he marveled. “He’s maximizing money. He can make two or three times what any other player ever has with that same level of play, which again is top-shelf.”
Jennings said he loves Holzhauer’s ambitious approach.
“I’ve always wanted to see somebody play that way, you know? I remember as a kid doing the math and figuring out how much somebody could win on ‘Jeopardy!,’ if they got every question, and got all the Daily Doubles last, and they bet everything on them,” Jennings told Wired. “Like, wow, look at that number. Did I actually think we would see someone try that? No, I did not.”
Contributing: Bill Keveney and Anika Reed, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Jeopardy’ champ James Holzhauer earns 28th win, pulls within $325K of Jennings’ record