When James Holzhauer, a 34-year-old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, first entered the syndicated game show “Jeopardy!” last April, he started a phenomenon that would greatly boost ratings for the long-runner with his play-style that saw him make insane amounts of money in every succeeding game he played in as returning champion. When he was finally eliminated on his 33rd outing, he had made $2,464,216 total from his time on “Jeopardy!,” just third behind the two highest-earning winners, and getting there in fewer games than they. After his extraordinary experience, He made a generous donation to a pancreatic cancer walk in Illinois, and used “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s name.
As Entertainment Weekly would have it, “Jeopardy James” Holzhauer returned a symbolic contribution to the local Pancreatic Cancer Reach Walk of his birthplace in Napierville, Illinois (in the Chicago area). He was originally invited to appear there by local resident Ann Zediker, who lost her father to cancer in 2010. Although the record-setting “Jeopardy!” winner could not drop by himself, he did make a $1,109.14 donation the cancer walk, the value standing for the birthday of Natasha, his daughter. He gave the name of Alex Trebek to the contribution, in honor of the game show host’s own struggle with cancer.
Trebek had first surprised the “Jeopardy!” staff and audience during an episode in March when he mentioned that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment. While he continued his hosting duties, people were concerned for Trebek’s health and discussions were initiated on a possible successor for fronting “Jeopardy!” The relief was palpable when, on May, Trebek gave an update on his condition, announcing that the cancer is now close to remission. Holzhauer thus made his “Jeopardy!” journey fully aware of Trebek’s battle with pancreatic cancer.
“For Alex Trebek and all other survivors,” James Holzhauer wrote in dedication to his donation for the Napierville Pancreatic Cancer Walk. This is only the latest in a string of charitable donations that the “Jeopardy!” big winner has made from out of his cash prize total. Several organizations in Las Vegas have been beneficiaries of his kindness, including a library district that received $10,000 for the cause of early learning. And Trebek himself looks fit to continue hosting just as the game show he has fronted since 1984, and the next season starting on September will be the 36th year “Jeopardy” has been on air.
The game episode where Jeopardy James finally lost the champion spot was recorded to be the most-watched in the past 15 years of “Jeopardy!” on syndicated television, with 14.5 billion viewers who saw the episode on the day it aired.
Image courtesy of Fox 13