James Holzhauer is taking “Conspiracy Theories” for $1,000.
The former “Jeopardy!” champ, whose winning streak came to an end Monday during his 33rd appearance on the show, addressed on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Tuesday the notion that he threw the game.
“Oh, I love the conspiracy theories,” he said. “My favorite one is, I found some sports book in Vegas who’s offered me some great odds to throw the game, and I somehow managed to put in a few million dollars to bet against myself, because of course they take those kind of limits of pre-taped TV shows.”
Holzhauer later in the chat appeared irked by the theories when explaining why he chose to appear on “SportsCenter” as opposed to other shows. He knocked what he felt were “several of the morning shows” with a co-host who said Holzhauer threw his final showing.
“Oh, come on, you know,” he said. “I don’t want to talk to that guy.”
More: James Holzhauer is (finally) unseated as ‘Jeopardy!’ champion; how did it all come down?
More: ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Ken Jennings salutes James Holzhauer’s ‘reign of destruction’
He previously addressed a piece from USA TODAY’s For The Win with numerous conspiracy theories on Twitter Monday.
“Jet fuel can’t melt buzzers,” the former champ wrote in response to the post.
So what really happened? In his own words, Holzhauer explained on “SportsCenter”: “I didn’t beat myself. I just played my best and got outplayed.”
Holzhauer made a splash during his winning streak by taking the board by storm, going for the highest-dollar questions first and hunting for Daily Doubles. Then, the professional sports gambler from Las Vegas bet big.
Except on Monday, when he didn’t. Holzhauer, along with his two competitors, gave the correct response in Final Jeopardy. But with $23,400 going into the round – $3,200 below Emma Boettcher’s total – he wagered only $1,399, a “modest (bet) for the first time,” as host Alex Trebek termed it, and finished with $24,799. Boettcher, who led going into the round, bet big, wagering $20,201, and finished the victor with $46,801.
More: James Holzhauer missed these tricky ‘Jeopardy!’ clues; can you get them right?
He felt the end of his streak could be summed up as “bittersweet,” while praising Boettcher, a user-experience librarian at the University of Chicago.
“I’m very happy for the journey, a little sad to see it end so early, but really, you know, if I had to lose, losing to a great champion player, who played a perfect game to beat me is the best way I could’ve gone out,” he said on “SportsCenter.”
More: Who is Emma Boettcher, the ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant who just dethroned James Holzhauer?
Holzhauer explained his uncharacteristically low wager to The Action Network, a media company that provides sports analysis.
“I knew I could only win if Emma missed Final Jeopardy, as there was no way she wouldn’t bet to cover my all-in bet,” Holzhauer said. “So my only concern was getting overtaken by third place, and I bet just enough to make sure of locking him out.
“Betting big would have looked good for the cameras, but now I turn my straight bet (Boettcher misses) into a parlay (Boettcher misses and I get it right),” he added.
Contributing: Gary Levin and Leora Arnowitz