James Holzhauer, who received national attention this spring on "Jeopardy!" with a productive run, won the Champions of the game show on Friday's episode, fending off rival Emma Boettcher to win the first prize of $ 250,000.
Holzhauer, a 35-year-old Las Vegas sports bettor, won $ 2.46 million for 32 consecutive wins. The line ended in early June in the hands of Boettcher, who remains the only contestant to ever defeat him.
The rematch starts Thursday with the first of two contests in the final of the Champions Tournament, and hasn't been decided until the Jeopardy Final! on Friday.
Holzhauer entered Friday with a 22,926-dollar lead over Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago. Boettcher cut Holzhauer's lead during the Double Jeopardy round and was within shooting range towards Final Jeopardy.
The final clue from the International Disputes category: "Disputes over Etorofu, Habomai, Kunashiri & Shikotan have made these two countries never sign a World War II peace treaty."
Holzhauer bet $ 9,812, while Boettcher bet $ 17,000. Both of them answered correctly with "What are Japan and Russia?" Holzhauer won with $ 76,923 for Boettcher for $ 65,000.
"I have to get the Final [Jeopardy] "the right to avoid defeat at the last second," Holzhauer told ESPN in an email on Friday. Fortunately, that was a question about Japan, and my grandmother could easily find out that I had not forgotten my inheritance. "
Holzhauer's career victory in "Jeopardy!" now totaling $ 2,712,216, the third largest in the show's history, behind only Brad Rutter ($ 4,688,436) and Ken Jennings ($ 3,370,700).
Boettcher took home $ 100,000 for second place in the Champions Tournament, and Francois Barcomb, a high school physics teacher from New York, won $ 50,000 to finish third.
"Everyone played well, especially Emma, who totaled $ 65,000 more than anyone had printed in the final ToC before," added Holzhauer. "I think the big takeaway is how great the competition is, proving with certainty that his victory against me is not a coincidence."
Holzhauer was fast in the bell during Friday's match, buzzing in the first better than 54% of the time, according to thejeopardyfan.com community site. He correctly answered 30 of the 33 instructions, but Boettcher remained strong and answered all 18 instructions correctly. He made a big step at Double Jeopardy, managed to make an all-in on the Daily Double and surpassed Holzhauer for the day.
Five hints later, Holzhauer failed to run the Daily Double himself, losing $ 8,615 and putting Boettcher in a position to withdraw victory in the Final Jeopardy. Holzhauer nailed down Jeopardy Final, though, thwarted his comeback and added to his legacy.
During his captivating performance in the spring, Holzhauer composed 16 highest single game scores in 35 Jeopardy seasons and 23 of the 27 top overall. His peak performance came in the April 9th episode, when he won a record of $ 131,127. He appeared on SportsCenter and received a key to the city for Las Vegas. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tweeted about Jeopardy James.
"I strongly suspect this is not my last appearance in 'Jeopardy!' Said Holzhauer. "Stay here!"
He said he had returned to work as a professional bettor during the football season and was not sure what would happen next.
"Hopefully you can come back on TV next year," Holzhauer said.