By Mike Wilcox
I don’t watch much television unless it’s sports. I’ve never taken in a minute of “Game of Thrones” nor made it through an entire episode of “This is Us.” There is, however, one show that has captivated my attention for many years, “Jeopardy.”
I’m a trivia buff, and the players who make it to “Jeopardy” telecasts are trivia wizards. The last couple of weeks have been must-see TV, as contestant James Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, is breaking all sorts of program records.
I sit in awe watching Holz-hauer win time after time: 13 times as of this writing, amassing nearly $950,000, second only to Ken Jennings. In so doing Holzhauer has shattered the single-game winnings record three times, with his highest total being $131,137 last week.
Holzhauer has no fear. He takes the highest dollar-value clues off the table first; normal players start with the lowest values. He doubles down every time he has the opportunity, including many times with the Final Jeopardy clue.
His success has brought “Jeopardy” a ton of attention, not that the popular game show in its 35 season needs it. Slate magazine calls Holzhauer, “a cyborg constructed for the express purpose of winning at this ever-popular game.”
The Washington Post, in a story today encouraged readers to tune in while they can. “Not only is this kind of pop culture phenomenon fun to watch, it’s highly unlikely it will happen again,” the newspaper said.
Holzhauer has no weaknesses. No matter the category, he seems to have the answers quicker than anyone else. No one has come close to matching his scores.
Last night Holzhauer finished with over $70,000. The runner-up had $4,000 and the third contestant amassed $2,000. Of those questions he answered, which were 85-percent of the board, he correctly answered each.
I would be remiss in not acknowledging Alex Trebek, the show’s host for 34 years. A month ago he announced he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Stage 4. At the time he vowed to be back to work as soon as possible.
True to his word, Trebek, 78, returned a week after the diagnosis. He has a tough battle ahead, but as he jokingly said, “I just signed a new contract and I must fulfill it.”
I think sometimes I watch “Jeopardy” because of Trebek. Of all the game show hosts, he is the smoothest and portrays a really likeable personality. I have been tuning in for most of those 34 years, and although I’ve never met him, I consider him family.
Of Holzhauer, Trebek said last night, “Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you know about our current champion, James. It worth noting that when Ken Jennings had his amazing run of 74 wins in a row, he was averaging $34,000 per victory. James is averaging $71,000 per victory.”
I don’t always concur with The Washington Post but in this instance they have it right. Tune in and watch this guy. You will be amazed.