A Brandeis Employee Almost Dethroned James Holzhauer on Jeopardy!

He fell just $18 short.

adam levin

Image courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Adam Levin, a representative for Brandeis athletics, came just $18 short of dethroning reigning Jeopardy! king James Holzhauer on Monday night.

Holzhauer, whose 18 straight wins is the second-longest streak in Jeopardy! history, has won every other game by at least $4,000—until Levin showed up. What is a close call?

Holzhauer has been shattering the single-day winnings records, often breaking $100,000 in a single game. Before he appeared on the show, the record, set by Roger Craig in 2010, sat at a measly $77,000. Holzhauer won $110,914 to break the record on his fourth game, and has since passed that mark 6 times to set the new high at $131,127 on April 17.

Levin came dangerously close to ending this historic run in the latest episode, which aired Monday night. After the final winnings were revealed, Holzhauer doubled over, relieved that his streak lives another day—barely.

“I did everything I could possibly do and the best I could, and I was a few dollars short, but I wouldn’t trade it,” Levin told the Boston Globe Monday. “I had a huge smile on my face for as much of the time I could, because I was living the dream.”

It’s not every day that a second-place finish on Jeopardy! makes the news, but Holzhauer, a professional gambler, has changed the game.

Levin said he had a slight advantage coming into his matchup with the most famous Jeopardy! contestant since Ken Jennings. The show shoots five episodes a day, and Levin was called to set a day early just in case hell froze over and Holzhauer was dethroned. The challenger, who lives in Ashland, got to watch five straight games of the incumbent’s mind-boggling strategy before getting behind the podium himself.

“James is a super aggressive bettor,” Levin told the Globe, “I knew the normal way of starting at the top and going to the bottom and one category at a time would not have worked.”

But the best thing to come out of Holzhauer’s scrape with trivia death is Levin’s son Drew’s reaction to his dad absolutely killing it on TV. Even though his dad, sitting right next to him, might have spoiled the ending, that didn’t stop Drew from cheering and dabbing to the beat of the buzzer. I’ll take adorable for $800, Alex.