New England Patriots

Professional sports gambler and "Jeopardy!" champion James Holzhauer of Nevada sounds a siren in the Castle before the start of Game Six of the Western Conference First Round between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on April 21, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Sharks defeated the Golden Knights 2-1 in double overtime to even the series at 3-3. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Professional sports gambler and “Jeopardy!” champion James Holzhauer of Nevada sounds a siren in the Castle before the start of Game Six of the Western Conference First Round between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on April 21, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Sharks defeated the Golden Knights 2-1 in double overtime to even the series at 3-3. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

If Jeopardy! were a sports debate, the GOAT discussion would pretty much come down to Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer.

Jennings still holds the record for most consecutive wins on the classic game show (74) and total non-tournament winnings ($2,520,700). His winning streak, in particular, may never be broken. But Holzhauer is so dominant that he seems to have a very realistic shot at it, despite being at “only” 23 straight wins. Holzhauer is basically the Tom Brady to Jennings’ Joe Montana, back when Brady was chasing that fourth Super Bowl ring.

Hell, Holzhauer may already be the GOAT anyway. Which explains why he’s on Brady’s radar. The Patriots quarterback sent out a Twitter bet on Monday that was destined to lose, much like Holzhauer’s Jeopardy! opponents. He bet that if Holzhauer lost, he would eat a strawberry live on Instagram. Brady famously hates strawberries so it would have been quite the ordeal.

But Brady knew. Everyone in America knew. Holzhauer was going to steamroll another pair of hapless contestants, and he did. He got to “Final Jeopardy!” with $49,229 in another runaway win – and wagered another $40,000. Of course, he got it right, adding another notch to his ever-growing belt of single-game earnings records.

Why is James Holzhauer so good?

The professional gambler has become known for his massive bets and it’s led to over $1.7 million in earnings, already blowing by everyone but Jennings in that department. But if Holzhauer keeps his current pace, he could pass the earnings record with just 10 more wins.

Anyone who’s watched Holzhauer’s run can see how hard he is to beat. It’s not just the gambler’s mentality and big bets. It’s not just his daily double-hunting strategy, which has been polarizing for those who would rather see everyone play the conventional way. It also helps that he knows so much and continually proves why he’s so confident betting on himself. Perhaps most importantly, he appears to have mastered the buzzer. He’s going up against two other super-smart people who likely know most of the answers themselves. Jennings has said this before: winning on the buzzer is arguably the most important thing in the whole game.

Combine Holzhauer’s skill set together and you have maybe the most dominating performer in the history of the show. He will blow everyone else away with his per-game earnings whenever he finally tastes defeat, which will likely come when he goes all in on a daily double only to get it wrong. But even if he doesn’t have Jennings’ longevity, he has the sheer money dominance that may never be matched again.

The GOAT Debate

Holzhauer is so dominant, he may also go the way of the Patriots and force Jeopardy! to change the rules. Maybe they’ll put a limit on daily double bets, or force contestants to start with cheaper answers. Holzhauer’s strategy has never been forbidden, but tacitly discouraged, which is why contestants like him only come around once in a while. But his dominance has taken the concept to a new level.

To make another football comparison … if Jennings is Tony Gonzalez, then Holzhauer is like Rob Gronkowski. Not the longest career for Holzhauer (yet), but an absolute force when he was active. Who knows, Holzhauer may get to Jennings’ win record. By that time he probably would have more than doubled Jennings’ total earnings.

At that point, the GOAT debate would be over. Much like it should be with Brady. If you ask No. 12, he’ll probably tell you that Holzhauer is already the greatest. Especially because he didn’t have to eat that strawberry.

UPDATE: Hand up. Missed this overnight. But Holzhauer responded to Brady’s challenge by upping the ante. Brady may not have known that he’s dealing with an actual gambler here.

Perhaps that’s not fair because Jeopardy! is recorded in advance. Did Holzhauer just spoil that he’s winning again on Tuesday night? Wouldn’t be that much of a spoiler because the guy is practically unbeatable.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.