'Jeopardy James' is $9K shy of passing the $2 million mark

Las Vegas man wins his 26th game

By Kendall Trammell, CNN
Jeopardy! via CNN

James Holzhauer on "Jeopardy!"

Thursday was a tough game of "Jeopardy!" for James Holzhauer.

Holzhauer was close to the $2 million mark, but alas, it wasn't enough. His total winnings are now $1,991,135.

The 34-year-old from Las Vegas won his 26th game with $52,108, but only after he went into Final Jeopardy with just $5,400 separating him from his challenger Nate Scheffey, a technology consultant from New York.

Both Holzhauer and Scheffey knew the correct question to the "Jazz Classics" clue: "In one account, this song began as directions written out for composer Billy Strayhorn to Duke Ellington's home in Harlem."

The answer was "What is 'Take the A Train'?".

So it all came down to who bet more of their winnings.

Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler, put down $20,908 of his $31,200. Scheffey put down $10,000 of his $25,800 winnings, which could have made him the winner if Holzhauer had given the wrong answer.

The final contestant, Laura Schulman, a public defender from Seattle, came in third place after she bet none of her $1,200 winnings, which was a smart move for her. She gave an incorrect answer, "What is 'Take 5'?"

Holzhauer will play his 27th game Friday and potentially surpass the milestone.

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