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James Holzhauer to face Emma Boettcher in ‘Jeopardy!’ finals

Emma Boettcher, pictured with “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, will face James Holzhauer in the Tournament of Champions.
Emma Boettcher, pictured with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, will face James Holzhauer in the Tournament of Champions.
(Jeopardy Productions / Tribune News Service)

The stage is being set for a much-anticipated rematch between “Jeopardy!” champions James Holzhauer and Emma Boettcher during finals of the quiz show’s Tournament of Champions on Thursday and Friday.

Holzhauer earned his spot in the two-day finals by accumulating $30,156 in Tuesday’s semifinal round — a win achieved despite getting the Final Jeopardy answer wrong.

On Thursday and Friday, the three finalists will start each game at zero. The winner will be the contestant with the highest combined score from two days of play.

Not only will the top player claim bragging rights, but there’s also a $250,000 grand prize. The second-place finisher earns $100,000 and third place receives $50,000.

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Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler living in Las Vegas, on Monday tried to put to rest rumors that he threw the match against Chicago librarian that ended his 32-day run. He was $58,485 short of topping Ken Jennings’ regular season earnings record of $2.5 million.

In a tweet Monday, Holzhauer said, “Clearing this up for the last time: James (June 3): tried to win. Pete Carroll (November 11): didn’t.”

In Tuesday’s semifinals, Holzhauer was so far ahead of his opponents that it didn’t matter that he gave a wrong answer — something he does just 3% of the time, statistics show — in Final Jeopardy.

The other two contestants, a sports industry consultant from Georgia and an astronomy interpreter from Oregon, wagered nothing in Final Jeopardy and neither gave the correct response to the clue: In 2018 Forbes said this “Belt’s Demographic Delight” is this other “Belt’s Demographic Dilemma.”

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The correct response was “What are ‘Sun’ and ‘Rust’?” but Holzhauer wrote “What is Sun Bible & Rust” with a line through the word sun.

He bet just $310 and ended the day with $30,156.

Holzhauer gained fame this spring for his ability not only to buzz in quickly with a 97% accuracy rate on responses but to find the Daily Double questions that allowed him to make big-money wagers — his average bet was $9,000. His success allowed him to run up a host of records for single-day earnings.

He also garnered attention for making bets using numbers with special meaning, such as birthdays or his wedding anniversary, and would write messages to his family along with his Final Jeopardy answer.

Holzhauer’s “Jeopardy!” winnings totaled $2.46 million with 32 consecutive wins, both the second-best numbers in show history, not counting tournament winnings. Jennings is the record holder with $2.52 million over 74 consecutive victories.


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