THIS PHILLY NATIVE KNOCKED OFF JAMES HOLZHAUER ON JEOPARDY!

By Mary Cunningham

Don’t you that it took a Philly native and Princeton grad to knock off James Holzhauer on Jeopardy!

Holzhauer’s “Jeopardy!” reign came to an end with his 33rd game, a tantalizing $58,484 shy of the alltime record.

The number of the day turned out to be $22,002, the amount that separated him from the winner, a librarian from Chicago named Emma Boettcher, who grew up in Chester County and attended Princeton.

The surprising end caused even the famously dispassionate host to practically lose his composure.

“What a game!” Alex Trebek exclaimed after Boettcher’s final score popped up. “Oh my gosh!”

Holzhauer walked over to give Boettcher a high-five.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Holzhauer said in an interview. “But I’m very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show. So I don’t feel bad about it.”

As he racked up wins, Holzhauer, a 34-year-old professional sports bettor who lives in Las Vegas, gained a celebrity status that few game show contestants ever reach. Clark County, Nev., declared a “James Holzhauer Day,” and he was given a ceremonial key to the Las Vegas Strip. A minor-league baseball team in upstate New York offered him a chance to work as its general manager (for a day). His success rubbed off on the show itself, which drew its best household ratings in 14 years, according to Nielsen.

Though he eventually lost, Holzhauer’s statistics will be tough to beat. During his streak he won an average of $77,000 per game, more than double Jennings’s rate. When he buzzed in, he got the right answer (that is, question) 97 percent of the time, according to the show. He almost always entered Final Jeopardy so far ahead that no one could catch him.

Despite a workmanlike efficiency and a practiced smile that invited comparisons to cyborgs, Holzhauer allowed some charm to break through. He often calculated his Final Jeopardy wager so his total winnings for the game matched meaningful dates, like his 4-year-old daughter’s birthday. He also wrote greetings to his friends and family on his Final Jeopardy answer, a habit that other contestants picked up on; the show eventually began enforcing an existing rule prohibiting such messages.

Online, he bantered with fans in a dryly humorous Twitter feed and even trash-talked with Jennings while knowing (but unable to reveal) that he would fall just shy of his record.

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