Emma Boettcher is a full-time librarian from Chicago, but in her spare time, the 27-year-old is a game show giant slayer.
Boettcher became the Jeopardy! contestant who finally unseated record-smashing champion, James Holzhauer. Boettcher’s win had been foreshadowed over the weekend when a leaked video clip showed how she took down Holzhauer in Final Jeopardy by taking a lead into the last question and closing out the win with a big bet and a correct answer.
Holzhauer gave Boettcher a high-five, and the media has now given her plenty of spotlight. After the episode began airing in markets early in the afternoon on Monday, a number of outlets published interviews with the newest Jeopardy! champion.
Emma Boettcher may have the perfect background for Jeopardy! She has been the resident librarian at the University of Chicago for the last three years and recently earned a master of science in information science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As the New York Post noted, Boettcher’s academic career seemed to prepare her for the big moment.
“The trivia whiz earned the Elfreda Chatman Research Award in 2015 for her master’s proposal, ‘What is Difficulty?: Estimating the Difficulty of Fact-Finding Questions Using the ‘Jeopardy’ Archive.’ “
Boettcher added that she’s been a lifelong Jeopardy! fan and borrowed a page from Holzhauer’s strategy book in how she sought out slots where Daily Doubles are most often hidden and made sure to bet big when she found them. While Holzhauer was able to blow away the competition in the majority of his wins, reaching levels early or midway through Double Jeopardy that had already ensured him wins, Boettcher was able to stay in the contest the entire way through, holding onto her lead after Final Jeopardy.
“I knew going in that Daily Double hunting was something that I could do and feel confident doing,” she told the New York Times. “I don’t need to be cautious around that.”
After the match, Holzhauer gave some perspective to his amazing run and said he didn’t regret the way it ended.
“I know I played my best and did everything I could, so I will hold my head up high,” Holzhauer told his hometown paper, the Naperville Sun.
Emma Boettcher’s win got her plenty of publicity, but she now has a big task ahead of her if she has any plans to match her predecessor. She only has a little more than $2.4 million and 31 more victories to match James Holzhauer.