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New 'Jeopardy!' champ Emma Boettcher didn't know James Holzhauer won 32 games until right before taping

Emma Boettcher said she taped Monday’s episode of 'Jeopardy!' against James Holzhauer back in March.

Emma Boettcher said she taped Monday’s episode of "Jeopardy!" against James Holzhauer back in March.
Emma Boettcher said she taped Monday’s episode of "Jeopardy!" against James Holzhauer back in March.
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SALT LAKE CITY — Emma Boettcher, who dethroned James Holzhauer on “Jeopardy!” Monday night, actually wrote her thesis on the trivia game show. Game recognizes game.

Boettcher wrote a 70-page final paper all about "Jeopardy!" way back in 2016 as her capstone for a master’s degree in information science for the University of North Carolina,” The Washington Post reports. She reviewed the show’s entire list of archives and analyzed whether or not a computer could correctly guess the show’s riddles.

“The question I started out with was, How do people perceive what’s difficult, and how can we train a computer to make those same types of predictions?” Boettcher told Vulture. “The ‘Jeopardy!’ board values its clues going from top to bottom. I was parsing the text of those clues for length, the words used in each, the syntax, and whether they linked out to audiovisual materials."

She added, “I was very lucky to find an adviser who completely went with it.”

Boettcher didn’t flinch on Monday night when she faced off with Holzhauer, who was on a 32-game winning streak and was within reach of Ken Jennings’ earnings record. She walked away with $46,801 on the day, dethroning Holzhauer.

Boettcher said competing on “Jeopardy!” was always a dream for her.

“It’s an amazing feeling, truly,” she told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Just being on ‘Jeopardy!’ was one dream for me. And then to be on and hold my own was another dream. And then to be on and hold my own and then win was just way beyond anything I ever expected.”

In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, Boettcher auditioned for “Jeopardy!” four different times before she received a call in February that said she’d compete on the show.

Boettcher said she taped Monday’s episode back in March. And, funny enough, she didn’t know Holzhauer was a 32-game champion until right before taping, according to the Chicago Tribune.

She told the Chicago Tribune that the show’s coordinators “get around to introducing the returning champion, who’s in there with you, and they mentioned, ‘This is James. He’s won 32 games. He’s won however many million dollars.’ So that was the first time I had heard of him. Those numbers, I heard them, and I thought, ‘That's not real, what’s the real number?’ And the real number never came because that was the real number, so I went into denial pretty early on.”