You wouldn’t see a tear rolling down my cheek last night.
After 32 victories, Jeopardy champion and early summer pop culture icon James Holzhauer was defeated by a Chicago librarian. I took satisfaction knowing that not only did James fall far short of Ken Jennings’ record winning streak (74 games) but that he narrowly missed breaking Jennings’ record for total winnings ($2.52 million). Sorry James, you will just have to deal with your measly $2.46 million.
I admit it, dominant Jeopardy champions don’t usually win favor with me. Although I did pull for Jennings, I openly rooted against champs such as Austin Rogers, Buzzy Cohen, and Arthur Chu. Perhaps it is mostly jealousy, but some of these players do bring with them an air of arrogance that I don’t particularly care for. James seemed to embrace a nonchalant, “I don’t care/I’m bored” attitude that rubbed me the wrong way. But my ire could very well be misplaced, because there was no doubt that Alex Trebek loved him.
Nonetheless, I am glad he is gone. I respected his skills with the buzzer and his robotic-like knowledge of geography (and every other subject) but I was less impressed with his specific bets and needless commentary he slipped in between clues.
But maybe I should be celebrating something other than James’ downfall. As a diehard Jeopardy fan, I could show my true colors better by rejoicing in the way last night’s game was played as opposed to basking in who lost. Did you know that every single clue offered in the Jeopardy round was answered correctly? Then, in the Double Jeopardy round, only ONE clue was answered incorrectly. In Final Jeopardy, all three contestants got it right. You won’t watch a Jeopardy game much more beautiful than that.
It goes without saying that a game played to that level of perfection was needed to beat James. It also was absolutely crucial that his opponents controlled the board and gobbled up the Daily Doubles, especially the ones in Double Jeopardy. After weeks of slapping the couch in frustration and watching boring runaway game after boring runaway game, the stars finally aligned and the champ was dethroned.
Congratulations (and thank you) to Emma Boettcher. She was poised and focused up on that stage, seemingly unfazed by matching up against a 32-day champion. I hope she wins a couple more games because she deserves it…but by next week I wouldn’t mind a new champion. Now, once and for all, can we go back to playing the Jeopardy board from the top down? Don’t Blink.