James Holzhauer explains why he wagered just $1,399 in his last Final Jeopardy
James Holzhauer's captivating "Jeopardy!" run is officially over, thanks to user-experience librarian Emma Boettcher and a Final Jeopardy wager which host Alex Trebek described as unusually "modest" for the typically big bettor.
Holzhauer, who was just $58,484 from Ken Jennings' all-time record, was going for his 33rd win Monday when he and his two fellow contestants all gave the correct answer in the Final Jeopardy round. The defending champion, known for his aggressive wagering, had $23,400 but bet only $1,399 for a final total of $24,799.
By comparison, Boettcher, who led going into the round, wagered $20,201, and finished with $46,801.
Wondering what was going through his mind? You're not the only one.
“I knew I could only win if Emma missed Final Jeopardy, as there was no way she wouldn’t bet to cover my all-in bet,” Holzhauer explained to The Action Network, a media company that provides sports analysis. “So my only concern was getting overtaken by third place, and I bet just enough to make sure of locking him out.
"Betting big would have looked good for the cameras, but now I turn my straight bet (Boettcher misses) into a parlay (Boettcher misses and I get it right),” he added.
Holzhauer is (finally) unseated as 'Jeopardy!' champion: How did it all come down?
Ken Jennings reacts: Record holder salutes James Holzhauer's 'reign of destruction'
Holzhauer made headlines during his winning streak on the show by taking the board by storm, going for the highest-dollar questions first and hunting for Daily Doubles. Then, he bet big.
In an April interview, the professional sports gambler from Las Vegas told The New York Times in an interview that his huge advantage on the trivia show was that he wasn’t afraid to risk his winnings.
"The fact that I win and lose money all the time helps desensitize me, so I can write down $60,000 as the Final Jeopardy wager and not be trembling at the thought of losing that money," he said.
Who is Emma Boettcher? Meet the 'Jeopardy!' contestant who just dethroned Holzhauer
Another unorthodox Holzhauer stragegy? He headed straight to the children's section of the library to do his research.
"I’ve found that in an adult reference book, if it’s not a subject I’m interested in, I just can’t get into it," he told the Times. "I was thinking, what is the place in the library I can go to to get books tailored to make things interesting for uninterested readers? Boom. The children’s section."
Contributing: Leora Arnowitz and Gary Levin
Would you have gotten these 10 'Jeopardy!' questions right? Holzhauer didn't.