Alex Trebek says the young man is from Las Vegas, but we’re claiming him for one of our own.
James Holzhauer grew up in Naperville and went to the University of Illinois, so there.
He may be a professional sports gambler in Las Vegas now, but we have decided that his stunning success on the game show “Jeopardy!” should be credited entirely to his fine Midwestern upbringing and public school education.
We like to claim our local heroes where we can.
On Thursday, Holzhauer, 34, won on “Jeopardy!” again — his 16th victory in a row — pulling in $90,812. That brought his total winnings to $1,225,987, and he’ll back on the show on Friday.
The current incarnation of “Jeopardy!”, with Trebek as the host, has been on the air since 1984, and we have enjoyed watching more than a few amazing champs, including Julia Collins of Kenilworth. They, too, were masters of trivia and fast on the buzzer.
But Holzhauer is bringing a professional gambler’s killer instinct to the game. Like nobody before him, he builds up a little stash of cash fast and makes massive bets when he hits a Daily Double. Then he answers right.
He is crushing all records for single-game winnings.
By the time the “Final Jeopardy” clue came around on Thursday’s show, Holzhauer had won $55,695, compared to $9,600 for his opponent Alix and $2,600 for his opponent Tim. James could have played it safe, winning the game without risking another dollar, as contestants often do. But he wagered $35,117.
This was the question:
“Oddly, mining of this rare earth element with a geographic name, ‘atomic No. 63,’ is mostly in Asia and with some in South America and Australia.”
Alix and Tim said: “What is americium.” Wrong.
James said: “What is europium.” Right.
Out here on the flat Midwestern prairie, far from Hollywood game shows, we’re feeling pretty proud.
Because James Holzhauer, son of Naperville North High School, got europium right. And you can bet he didn’t learn that one in some Vegas casino.
Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org.