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Who is Emma Boettcher, librarian who defeated 'Jeopardy!' phenom James Holzhauer?

Published: Tuesday, June 04, 2019 @ 8:24 AM

‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Breaks One-Day Record Again

A University of Chicago librarian ousted "Jeopardy!" champ James Holzhauer in an episode that aired Monday, ending the professional gambler's headline-grabbing, 32-game winning streak.

>> ‘Jeopardy!’ phenom James Holzhauer's streak ends after 32 wins

Here's what we know about Emma Boettcher, the trivia show's newest champion:

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1. She said she didn't know about Holzhauer's streak until right before the filming of Monday's episode, which was recorded in March.

In an interview shared from the show's Twitter account, Boettcher, 27, said she initially thought the contestant coordinators were joking when they said her opponent had won 32 games. 

"It became clear during the game that he definitely earned it," Boettcher said.

Episodes featuring Holzhauer's streak started airing in April, the Chicago Tribune reported.

 

2. How did she win? 

According to the Tribune, the longtime "Jeopardy!" enthusiast selected high-dollar clues, sought "Daily Doubles" and made large bets, culminating with a $20,201 wager on the final clue: '"A great reckoning in a little room" in 'As You Like It' is usually taken to refer to this author's premature death." Although all three contestants gave the correct response ("Who is Marlowe?"), Boettcher ended the game with $46,801 – $22,002 more than Holzhauer.

3. Her master's thesis focused on trivia questions. 

Boettcher, a Princeton University alum who earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016, analyzed "Jeopardy!" clues in her 70-page thesisThe New York Times reported.

"Using clues from the game show Jeopardy!, the study finds that features relating to a trivia question's length, the inclusion of audiovisual media, and its constituent noun and verb phrases have a significant impact on the clue's difficulty," the paper's abstract reads. "Based on these findings, this study proposes that finding more nuanced ways to depict the amount of information in a trivia question would lead to further advancements."

4. She tried out for the show four times, played along at home and recorded her scores for five years.

She even practiced buzzing in as she watched the show, using a pen and, later, a toilet-paper holder to simulate the buzzer, the Times reported.

5. Holzhauer immediately congratulated Boettcher with a high-five on Monday’s episode.

He also sang Boettcher's praises in a Monday night tweet, commending her for her "world beating performance."

"There's no greater honor than knowing an opponent had to play a perfect game to defeat me," Holzhauer wrote.

He added that Boettcher is "an elite player who nailed her own big bets."