Could Jeopardy! episode be bigger than biggest sports upset?


“Jeopardy!” contestant James Holzhauer continues to break the game show’s records.

Spoiler alert: This article has been updated to include information about James Holzhauer’s performance in Monday’s episode.

In an upset of extraordinary magnitude, James Holzhauer finally lost on Jeopardy! after 32 victories and nearly $2.5 million in winnings. In Monday’s telecast of the previously recorded show, Holzhauer is defeated by Emma Boettcher.

How unlikely was this?

Going strictly by the available numbers – that is, the data from his performances and those of hundreds of other recent contestants – Syracuse University sports analytics professors Shane Sanders and Justin Ehrlich had found that at the start of any given match, there was a 99.3% chance that Holzhauer would win.

Translated into betting odds, you would have gotten 141-to-1 for a wager against him.

Here’s some context on that from the sports world: The University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s upset of Virginia in the 2018 NCAA basketball tournament was a 20-to-1 proposition; Buster Douglas’ heavyweight boxing takedown of Mike Tyson was 42-to-1.

Sanders and Ehrlich had applied probability…

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