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James Holzhauer's 'Jeopardy!' winning streak ends in final round thriller

The professional sports gambler lost in a stunning upset set to air Monday, leaving him just shy of former champ Ken Jennings' $2.5 million record.
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/ Source: TODAY

All good things must come to an end.

James Holzhauer's amazing run on “Jeopardy!” did just that on Monday when he lost after winning 32 consecutive games, leaving him in second place on the show's all-time money list.

Word of the shocking defeat started spreading on Sunday when a leaked clip from the episode circulated on social media.

And in a surprising twist, Holzhauer, who often bludgeoned his opponents by doubling and even tripling their totals, lost by more than $22,000 — even though he responded correctly in Final Jeopardy, according to a clip obtained by NBC News.

Challenger Emma Boettcher, a librarian at the University of Chicago, dethroned the Las Vegas pro sports gambler, who many expected to smash former champ Ken Jennings' record of $2.5 million, set over 74 games in 2004.

“I lost to a really top-level competitor,” Holzhauer told The New York Times. “She played a perfect game. And that was what it took to beat me.”

Boettcher led going into the final round with $26,600. Holzhauer had $23,400, according to the video clip.

The final clue read: "The line 'A great reckoning in a little room' in 'As You Like It' is usually taken to refer to this author’s premature death."

James Holzhauer
James Holzhauer "Jeopardy!" streak has ended. He won more than $2.4 million. AP

All three contestants got the correct answer: 16th century English playwright Christopher Marlowe.

But this time, it was Boettcher who went big, wagering $20,201, bringing her final total to $46,801.

Holzhauer bet an uncharacteristically small amount, just $1,399.

He finished with $24,799 for the game, and was awarded $2,000 for coming in second place, bringing his total purse to $2,464,216.

The crowd was audibly stunned by the turn of events, and even level-headed host Alex Trebek seemed taken aback.

“Oh gosh! What a payday,” Trebek said. “What a game! Oh my gosh!”

Holzhauer, 34, appeared to take the loss graciously, walking over to Boettcher and giving her a high-five.

Holzhauer became a pop culture phenomenon in recent weeks for his relentless buzzer and bet-big strategy.

Excluding tournaments, Holzhauer and Jennings are the only two people to win more than $2 million on the long-running game show. (Champion Brad Rutter owns the all-time mark of $4.7 million, which includes tournament winnings, over the course of 14 years.)

Holzhauer managed to become the show's second all-time biggest moneymaker after only two weeks.

He once won $131,127 to set the single-game "Jeopardy!" record, topping the previous record set by ... himself.

That mark, $110,914, easily eclipsed the previous one-day record of $77,000 set back in 2010.

Holzhauer first appeared on "Jeopardy!" on April 4 and quickly created a buzz around the program about a month after Alex Trebek revealed he has pancreatic cancer, putting a renewed spotlight on the game show.

Interestingly, Holzhauer, who has a 4-year-old daughter, tweeted Sunday night about losing.

"My kid cried about the possibility of her dad losing, so I told her we could have a party the day after it inevitably happens. Now she cries when I win," he wrote.

The show itself embraced Holzhauer, even going so far as to create a tracker to keep tabs on his accomplishments.