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This math teacher has quietly become one of the best 'Jeopardy!' players of all time

Could he be the next "Jeopardy James"?
Could he become the highest-earning "Jeopardy!" player of all time?
Could he become the highest-earning "Jeopardy!" player of all time?Jeopardy!
/ Source: TODAY

There’s a new "Jeopardy!" genius in town.

Jason Zuffranieri, a math teacher from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has quietly been winning game after game, becoming one of the top players to ever compete on the show.

Zuffranieri has won 17 games in a row as of Tuesday, bringing his total earnings to over $437,000.

“In comparison, only two players, Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, have won more money in regular competition games on our program,” host Alex Trebek said in a recent "Jeopardy!" video. “Jason is a force to be reckoned with.”

Zuffranieri does have a way to go before he reaches the earnings of Holzhauer, a professional gambler who won more than $2.4 million during his time on the show, and Ken Jennings, the legendary player who cleaned up with more than $2.5 million in 2004. But if he continues on his current streak, the show could have a new champion.

How exactly is he winning game after game? The teacher may be taking some strategy cues from Holzhauer, who famously started with high-value clues.

Zuffranieri hasn’t opened up too much about his methods, but he hinted that he may be somewhat inspired by Holzhauer’s unconventional playing style.

“I thought about it, you know,” Zuffranieri said in an interview on the "Jeopardy!" website. “It's not just to mimic him. Nobody is like him, but it's such a smart way to do it as well. And those kind of (higher value) clues — competitors might be more timid to take those on early, so you can really make up some ground.”

Whatever Zuffranieri is doing, it seems to be working.