How James Holzhauer built on the strategies of Ken Jennings to win Jeopardy. : Planet Money James Holzhauer took a math degree, a gambling career, and a buzzer, and turned it into a fortune on a game show. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

How Uncle Jamie Broke Jeopardy (Update)

How Uncle Jamie Broke Jeopardy (Update)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
James Holzhauer's first win on Jeopardy!
Courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2019.

When most people play Jeopardy!, they start out with the smallest dollar clues in a category and work their way up to the larger, harder ones. But in James Holzhauer's first round, he went straight for a $1,000 clue. And then another one. And another one.

James's Jeopardy! strategy wasn't a reckless gamble. It was informed by probability. His 32-game winning streak earned him more than $2.4 million and... the title of cooler uncle. James shares four nieces and nephews with our very own, Kenny Malone.

In this episode, Kenny talks to some of Jeopardy's most famous champions to find out how they got so good at the game. We find out how James won Jeopardy! and the hearts of his nieces and nephews.

Music: "Way to Mars" and "Union."

Find us: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / TikTok

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts and NPR One.

Want to be the best in economic trivia? Subscribe to our Newsletter.