‘Jeopardy!’ GOAT Ken Jennings Says James Holzhauer ‘Changed the Game’

Jeopardy!‘s current host Ken Jennings was crowned the game show’s “Greatest of All Time” after competing against former champs James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter in January 2020. Holzhauer’s now famous “all in” style of betting on Daily Doubles reflected how he works in his day job as a professional gambler. Jennings gave props to Holzhauer for upping the ante on the trivia game and noted that his high-risk practice reshaped how contestants plan their strategy.

James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter of on the set of Jeopardy!
James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter on ‘Jeopardy!’ | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Ken Jennings revealed ‘the only way’ to beat ‘Jeopardy! James’ Holzhauer

After nabbing the Jeopardy! GOAT title, Jennings commented on how Rutter came across some bad luck during the tournament. Despite being a fierce competitor, Rutter finished in third place.

“Brad is the most tenacious Jeopardy! player I’ve ever seen — best I’ve ever played,” Jennings told People in January 2020. “He just never got his footing. It may be just as simple as the fact that he found a ton of very hard Daily Doubles. Like, I would have missed a lot of those too. He just happened to be the one to who took the bullet.”

Holzhauer became a household name during his 32-game victory run on Jeopardy! in 2019. Always betting his entire jackpot on Daily Double clues, the pro gambler walked away with close to $2.5 million in winnings. Jennings studied Holzhauer’s playing style and pointed out that he’s put a new spin on the trivia game.

“You have to bet big,” the Jeopardy! GOAT remarked. “That’s the only way to beat him. I watched so many James Holzhauer tapes, just to prep for this. It’s a tribute to how he’s changed the game, his dominance. … Brad and I just knew intuitively that whoever would win was going to do it by doing their best James Holzhauer impression.”

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James Holzhauer may have started a ‘Jeopardy!’ trend

Jennings credited Holzhauer for paving the way for contestants taking bigger risks on Jeopardy! Still, the tactic isn’t foolproof.

“You’re definitely going to see a lot of cocky, young, would-be stars,” the Jeopardy! host said. “The problem is his strategy is very high risk. So I think it’s going to backfire on a lot of people.”

While season 38 has seen a string of consecutive-game winners, such as Matt Amodio and Amy Schneider, there also seems to be an uptick in higher Daily Double wagers.

“It’s going to be really entertaining TV,” Jennings predicted. “People have definitely been betting too small on Daily Doubles all these years.”

The 3 ‘Jeopardy!’ champs are friends off camera

Holzhauer contacted Jennings for some advice after making headlines on the game show in 2019. The two have formed a solid friendship over the years.

“We actually met briefly in Seattle, when I hosted a trivia night at a local music festival, although I didn’t remember,” Jennings explained. “But he reached out after his show and had some questions about Jeopardy! fame. And yeah, we’ve actually become very good friends, even though we have very different Jeopardy! styles.”

Now pals with both Holzhauer and Rutter, Jennings shares the spotlight with them on the ABC game show The Chase.

”We all get along really well and we are friends,” he told Original-Cin in April 2020. “James kind of has a pro-wrestling kind of persona that he does in public. But in person, he’s just a very sweet and generous guy. On Jeopardy! you don’t normally get to see a lot of that kind of chemistry, because we are playing a game on TV.”

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