'Jeopardy!' champ's win streak ends, just shy of money record

New York (AFP) –


"Jeopardy!" champion James Holzhauer has set many records -- and become a bit of a pop culture phenomenon -- during his entertaining weeks-long winning streak on the popular US game show.

But with the all-time record for money won in regular games on the line, the seemingly invincible professional gambler with a quick buzzer finger and tons of knowledge faltered.

Holzhauer's 32-game winning streak came to an end in the program aired Monday, though the footage was leaked 24 hours earlier.

Holzhauer, 34, was less than $60,000 shy of the $2.52 million won by computer scientist Ken Jennings in 2004, during a 74-game run.

And he answered the final question correctly, but university librarian Emma Boettcher had earned more money than Holzhauer did during the game and came out on top.

"Nobody likes to lose," Holzhauer said in an interview with The New York Times, which was only published after the episode's broadcast.

"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."

Holzhauer ended up winning $2.46 million, and will likely return in a champions' tournament later in the season.

"Jeopardy!" is one of the oldest television quiz shows in the United States, first airing in 1964 then transitioning to its current format with host Alex Trebek in 1984.

Every night, three contestants are presented with trivia questions in various categories and asked to come up with the answer in the form of a question.

Holzhauer was quick and smart, but also bet big -- very big -- on his ability to offer the correct answer when he landed on a special Daily Double question, which was often.

"I can wager five figures of money and not be feeling too much pressure about it. For me, this is just a coin flip," he said in an interview in May with The Action Network, a sports news and analytics website.

"I think your average contestant might be sweating and they can't concentrate on a trivia question with too much money at risk."

In most games, he ended the final round with an insurmountable lead.

The cone of secrecy about Monday's results was kept intact for months; the episode was filmed in March. Jennings told the Times that he learned about it in April, and rumors had swirled in the game show's community.

Fans are hoping for a Jennings-Holzhauer showdown, and Jennings said: "It's going to happen at some point."