James Holzhauer was born in Naperville, Illinois, and (barely) graduated with a math degree from the University of Illinois in 2005. While in college, he built a bankroll playing online poker, then decided to risk it all on baseball bets. Soon, he was making his living entirely by gambling on sports.
Holzhauer's first game show appearance was on an early version of "The Chase" in 2014, where he defeated Mark "The Beast" Labbett by a record margin. In 2019, Holzhauer went on a historic winning streak on "Jeopardy!" and added to his total game show winnings of over $3 million, behind only Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on the all-time list.
In January 2020, Holzhauer appeared alongside Jennings and Rutter in ABC's "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time" tournament.
Holzhaer lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Melissa, and their daughter.