A former ‘Jeopardy!’ champ explains what makes current star James Holzhauer a game-changer

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Eddie Timanus, who compiles the college coaches polls for USA TODAY Sports, was a five-time winner on Jeopardy! in 1999 and a Tournament of Champions semifinalist in 2000. He offers his take on the remarkable run of current “Jeopardy!” champ James Holzhauer:

I’ll admit it: From the moment he was introduced on “Jeopardy!” as (cue Johnny Gilbert voice) “a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada,” I was intrigued. This guy won’t be afraid to bet big, I thought.

Sure enough, when James Holzhauer uncovered his first daily double and used his now-familiar phrase, “All the chips,” I had a hunch we were about to see something special. Even so, I wasn’t quite prepared for the true game-changer we’ve witnessed on the show over the last three weeks.

Even as early as Holzhauer’s fourth victory, host Alex Trebek was wondering aloud if it was too early to project whether Ken Jennings’ record 74-day winning streak might be in, well, jeopardy. Nope, it definitely was not too early. Having already surpassed the $1 million mark in earnings, Holzhauer is on pace to overtake Jennings’ total in regular games in fewer than half the number of appearances.

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