The still-reigning all-time winnings Jeopardy! champion, Ken Jennings, called a showdown with the contestant who almost unseated him, James Holzhauer, “inevitable,” in an interview on Good Morning America, according to ABC News.
Jennings, a resident of the Seattle area, was humble about how a match between the two of them would play out.
“But ‘Jeopardy!’ only does those special tournaments so often, and obviously I can’t get 29-year-old Ken to show up with his sleek, 29-year-old brain, it’s got to be me with my broke down brain,” he said.
Jennings even went so far as to compare Holzhauer’s skills to those of the IBM supercomputer Watson which beat him on a special episode of Jeopardy! in 2011.
“Watching James on that show, he feels as close to Watson as you can get and still have a pulse. My guess is playing against James is going to be a lot like playing against Watson,” Jennings remarked.
The two champs have engaged in lighthearted banter over Twitter, and Holzhauer responded to Jennings’ comments on Good Morning America in a tweet earlier today.
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) June 6, 2019
Holzhauer, a professional gambler from Las Vegas, captured the attention of even casual Jeopardy! fans as he broke record after record during his 32-game win streak with his aggressive style of play and huge bets. During his time on the show, he set the record for highest amount of money earned in a single game repeatedly and now holds the top 14 spots for the most money won in a single game. His high single-game totals brought him within $58,484 of Jennings all-time total money won record of $2.52 million. Holzhauer was able to reach that number in about one-third of the number of games Jennings played to reach his total.
Holzhauer was a focused competitor who was tough to beat at the buzzer. He told reporters he had spent time prior to appearing on the show practicing ringing in at home with a mechanical pencil, according to the New York Times. Holzhauer’s win streak was ended on Monday by Emma Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago, who had her written her 70-page thesis in graduate school on an analysis of Jeopardy! clues.
All the excitement comes at a tumultuous time for the long running game show, as host Alex Trebek has been battling stage four pancreatic cancer since earlier this year. Stage four pancreatic cancer has a survival rate of only 9 percent, but the host told CNN last week that doctors informed him he may have beaten the odds and his cancer is near remission.