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Dori: ‘Jeopardy James’ confirms talks with Mariners front office

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek poses with "Jeopardy!" champion James Holzhauer backstage at the 2019 NHL Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

With 32 consecutive wins on the popular TV show between April and June, “Jeopardy James” Holzhauer shot to fame as one of the highest-earning game show contestants of all time.

Coming second only in “Jeopardy!” wins to the legendary 75-game Ken Jennings was a shock for the Vegas resident, whose career as a sports better normally keeps him out of the spotlight.

“You try to keep an intentionally low profile, and that kind of blew up for me overnight,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

Jeopardy James took perhaps his biggest gamble of all when he went on “Jeopardy!” and used his sports betting skills to determine how much to wager in each night’s “Final Jeopardy!,” as well as to come up with a strategy for which level of questions to answer first.

The 23-year-old Mariners front office intern who helped engineer a trade

“One thing I think really helped me is that I didn’t put any limits on myself based on what past contestants on ‘Jeopardy!’ have been able to achieve,” he said.

Sports betting as a career

The odds of making a living as a professional sports gambler may sound impossible, but Holzhauer advises prospective pro-betters to “always look at everything.”

He tries to get “a couple of percent over 50 games a week.”

“I used to only bet baseball because I didn’t think I knew enough about the other sports, but if you do a deep enough dive, you can find something and work on exploiting it as long as they’ll let you,” he said.

It can be hard to balance the sports betting career with having a family, but working from home and setting his own hours help Jeopardy James to prioritize spending time with his wife and young daughter.

Jeopardy James wins big

While he loves Vegas, his wife, a native Seattleite, is a big fan of the Pacific Northwest. Holzhauer joked about getting an executive position with the Mariners so that his family could move here.

“I had a nice chat with some people from the Mariners front office,” he said. “They really seemed like — results on the field be damned — they’re really running a good operation there and have a good long-term goal in mind.”

He has thought about reaching out to the Seahawks and to the new, as-of-yet-unnamed hockey team — which he is affectionately calling the “Seattle Freeze,” a play on the city’s infamous reputation of unfriendliness.

“I think that there’s more room for improvement in those sports, honestly,” he said. “The baseball front office, they’re really doing a great job now, they’re working really harder and harder to get smaller and smaller edges over the competition, whereas I think other sports are lagging behind.”

For example, football teams could “pass more than they are,” which he said is statistically better than running the ball.

Still, he chuckled, “I would hate to doubt [Seahawks Head Coach] Pete [Carroll].”

The future of ‘Jeopardy!’

With season 36 of “Jeopardy!” airing in September, fans predict that Jeopardy James’ betting-focused strategy of playing the game could have changed the show forever.

“They haven’t really aired any episodes featuring contestants who have been able to see me on television,” Holzhauer said. “Some people out there are wondering if the game is going to change in the upcoming season with people having seen me … I don’t know — I’m excited to see it.”

That’s not all that has changed with the show. “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek has been publicly battling stage IV pancreatic cancer.

In his honor, Jeopardy James donated over $1,000 to pancreatic cancer research.

“Getting to spend a little time with Alex was really a treasure,” he said. “I really hope he keeps the fight going for years and years so other contestants can get that pleasure.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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