Today’s Final Jeopardy – May 23, 2019

Here’s today’s Final Jeopardy (in the category Jazz Classics) for Thursday, May 23, 2019 (Season 35, Episode 184):

In one account, this song began as directions written out for composer Billy Strayhorn to Duke Ellington’s home in Harlem

(correct response beneath the contestants)

Today’s contestants:

Nate Scheffey, a technology consultant from New York, New York
Nate Scheffey on Jeopardy!
Laura Schulman, a public defender from Seattle, Washington
Laura Schulman on Jeopardy!
James Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada (25-day total: $1,939,027)
James Holzhauer on Jeopardy!

James has cemented his spot in the next Tournament of Champions. Our ToC Tracker shows who else is in the field.

If you’re curious to see how James’ stats so far shape up to those of Ken Jennings, you can find them at A James Holzhauer vs. Ken Jennings Statistical Comparison.

James has reached 900 correct responses on the show and has moved to #2 all-time on that list! See who else has at least 300 on our 300 Club page!

Did you attempt any of the online tests last month? You can find last week’s questions and answers here!

The Jeopardy! Book of Answers is out now! Here’s my review.

Are you going on the show and looking for information about how to bet in Final Jeopardy? Check out my new Betting Strategy 101 page!

I recently updated my tournament wild card models with as much tournament data that I’ve been able to find! If you’re playing in a tournament, you’ll want to check this out!


(Content continues below)

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Correct response: What is “Take The A-Train”?

Did you know that you can now find game-by-game stats of everyone, including James, who has won 10 or more games on Jeopardy!, here on the site?

More information about Final Jeopardy:

According to the lyrics, “you mst take the ‘A’ train to go to to Sugar Hill ‘way up in Harlem.” Written in 1939 by Billy Strayhorn, it became Duke Ellington’s signature tune.

Since Alex Trebek’s diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, many community members have been raising money. The Jeopardy! Fan Online Store is as well! All proceeds from any “Keep The Faith And We’ll Win” shirt sold will be donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. To date, over $370 has been raised.)

Looking to find out who won Jeopardy! today? Tonight’s results are below!

Scores going into Final:
James $31,200
Nate $25,800
Laura $1,200

Tonight’s results:
Laura $1,200 – $0 = $1,200 (What is Take 5?)
Nate $25,800 + $10,000 = $35,800
James $31,200 + $20,908 = $52,108 (26-day total: $1,991,135)

James Holzhauer, today's Jeopardy! winner (for the May 23, 2019 game.)

Scores after the Jeopardy! Round:
Nate $10,200
James $6,600
Laura $1,200


Opening break taken after: 15 clues

Daily Double locations:
1) NUMERIC PHRASES $800 (14th pick)
Nate 3400 +3400 (James 5400 Laura 600)
2) SCIENCE $2000 (4th pick)
Nate 13400 +6000 (James 6600 Laura 1200)
3) MOUNTAINS $1600 (6th pick)
James 8200 +8200 (Nate 19400 Laura 1200)
Overall Daily Double Efficiency for this game: 245

Unplayed clues:
J! round: THE 2018 IG NOBEL PRIZES $200
DJ! Round: None!
Total $ Left On Board: $200

Game Stats:
James $24,600 Coryat, 26 correct, 1 incorrect, 42.86% in first on buzzer, 2/2 on rebound attempts
Nate $19,200 Coryat, 24 correct, 1 incorrect, 37.50% in first on buzzer, 2/2 on rebound attempts
Laura $1,200 Coryat, 6 correct, 2 incorrect, 14.29% in first on buzzer
Combined Coryat Score: $45,000
Lach Trash: $3,800 (on 3 Triple Stumpers)
Coryat lost to incorrect responses (less double-correct responses): $5,000

James Holzhauer, stats to date:
939 correct, 29 incorrect
28/30 on rebound attempts (on 58 rebound opportunities)
57.98% in first on buzzer (850/1466)
58/62 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $534,054)
25/26 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $30,646

James Holzhauer, to win:
27 games: 98.069%
28: 96.176%
29: 94.319%
30: 92.498%
31: 90.713%
75: 38.471%
Avg. streak: 76.797 games.
(This is using the updated model.)


Tournament of Champions projections:
With a projected 76 regular-play games to go prior to the Tournament of Champions cutoff, after 500,000 simulations, our model shows:

James Holzhauer qualified 100.000% of the time.
Eric R. Backes qualified 93.911% of the time.
Anneke Garcia qualified 78.852% of the time.
Lindsey Shultz qualified 52.694% of the time.
Dave Leffler qualified 30.391% of the time.
Jonathan Dinerstein qualified 22.720% of the time.

Andy’s Thoughts:

  • This was the 4th time that James was not leading after the Jeopardy! round, but the first occurrence since his 8th game on April 15.
  • Between the 5th and 9th clues of the Double Jeopardy! round, James picked up $15,400, moving from $12,800 behind to $2,600 in front.
  • James has been correct on his last 20 Final Jeopardy! clues.
  • Nate’s $25,800 is the second-highest trailing score of all time going into Final Jeopardy, second only to Adam Levin’s $27,000 on April 29.
  • $52,108 is the 28th-highest winning score of all-time. Prior to the start of James’ run in April, it would have placed 9th.
  • If you took the 25 games James has already won out of the prediction model, it would still predict a streak of 50 games for James.
  • The prediction model gives James a 87.241% chance of surpassing Ken Jennings’ winnings total of $2,520,700, and a 50.537% chance of James surpassing Brad Rutter’s all-time winnings total of $4,688,436. (At his current average, James would pass Ken on June 3 and Brad on July 26.)
  • James’ average winning total on Thursdays is $61,423.
  • In a similar situation to today’s game, Ken Jennings survived a challenger not betting enough on a Daily Double in his 23rd win on July 2, 2004.

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59 Comments on "Today’s Final Jeopardy – May 23, 2019"

  1. This finality is too easy. Any contestant who misses it should have to wear a Dunce cap to work on Monday.

    • Edward: That’s an unfair statement to make. It’s only easy if you know the answer.

    • Elizabeth Harris | May 23, 2019 at 9:44 am |

      Finality? I actually think this is a pretty difficult final for someone who is not musically knowledgeable. It was a hit way back in 1941 and most folks only casually acquainted with Ellington would know tunes like “It don’t mean a thing” or “Mood Indigo,” but not necessarily this one. This piece is far more challenging to remember. I won’t be surprised if they all miss final. (And anyone who capitalizes Dunce should wear a dunce cap… We all know different things, whether music or grammar. No need to be insulting on this helpful forum!)

      • Lisa Brasch | May 24, 2019 at 3:53 am |

        Just got to see the show because the Cubs game preempted our broadcast.

        Well I got this FJ, but because I have a very different kind of knowledge. I knew this because of Hall of Fame and former Chicago Bull Artis Gilmore whose nickname was the A Train. Since James is a Chicago native sports fan, he may have gotten it right for the same reason! I probably would have been a “dunce” too, otherwise.

    • I only know the answer because I know the song, but regardless, the final question shouldn’t always be the hardest possible. A varied difficulty makes for a more competitive betting strategy based on the category alone. If you’re 75% confident in a category, you might be less inclined to bet high if it’s guaranteed to be hardest possible clue.

      Where does today rank among James’ lowest scoring games?

    • I believe that most people James’s age would not know the answer. He has a lot of knowledge on prior events that his age demographic would not know.

  2. Chris Echols | May 23, 2019 at 11:11 am |

    Wow, I thought Nate would beat James today. He was so quick on the buzzer as we have seen James dominate that aspect in many previous games. Nate would have been a deserving champ on almost any other show.

    • Nate gave James one opening and James took advantage.

    • As was the case with Adam Levin, a quality opponent finding the DDs is hard to overcome. In both games, James split the DDs in Double Jeopardy. If he had not found at least one, he would have been trailing heading into FJ. I too, thought that James was going home, but like a quality racehorse, after he went all-in on the DD, started getting the vast majority of correct answers; which allowed him to regain the lead heading into FJ. It seemed like that once James found the DD, he knew he had a chance, and frantically surged ahead. Truly, it was a dramatic race to the finish line of Double Jeopardy!

  3. OK, that had me holding my breath!!! Have these current players seen James on tv or are they still just watching him the day they get there? Nate should have bet his entire 13K on the DD!! I was hoping James would hit 2 mil today… guess we have to still wait it out!

  4. I’m rooting for James to continue for a long time, but this episode shows that he is indeed beatable. As mentioned above, if Nate had bet more on the daily double, he could very well have been the new champion.

  5. Actually, James did have a runaway in his 8th game on April 15th. So, this is the 3rd time in which James has the lead going into Final Jeopardy!, but it’s not a runaway.

  6. Myron Rushetzky | May 23, 2019 at 11:40 am |

    As a citizen of New York City, I got “Take the A-Train” immediately.
    Once upon a time, there was a legendary bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village called The Lion’s Head. Writers, journalists, actors, musicians, lawyers, politicians were among those who drank there. “Take the A-Train” was on the jukebox. It was #125. “How appropriate,” I thought when I noticed that all those decades ago. I never found out if that was intentional, or just a coincidence.

  7. Laurie Patton | May 23, 2019 at 12:09 pm |

    Thank you Andy for all your fantastic statistical analysis .

    Why did James bet $20K?
    Alex seems to be encouraging this champion now
    since ratings are up! I love watching the dynamics.
    James use of probability theory is exquisite !
    I would like to study for a year or eight for the show !
    But my memory and quickness would fail me!

    • Laurie:

      He bet that much because in order to pass Nate’s score doubled ($25,800 x 2 = $51,600), he needed to add $20,401 to his $31,200.

  8. Just two little words would have (most likely) given us a new champion today…”All in.”. Oh well, woulda, coulda, shoulda.

  9. I think another factor that plays into it is that, given that Jeopardy tapes five shows a day, someone who has been on a long time like James, must ultimately get fatigued. I know Ken won 74 games, but that’s a huge aberration.

  10. Give him an inch, he will take a mile.
    Nate played too traditional with the lead. To slay the beast you have to go for the jugular.

    And WOW … Rutter’s record is now on the radar: July 26?!!!

  11. To beat James, contestants must have an all or nothing approach as demonstrated in today’s episode. The worst any contestant can do is leave with $1k or $2k in their pockets. If Nate goes all in and hits, he takes home more than $60k today, instead, he settles for $2k. If he goes all in and misses, he simply settles for $1k at worst.

    I’m sure it won’t be long before this is figured out but to win, we need another Nate or Adam at the podium.

    James to 62 wins for sure.

    • It just goes against basic human nature, as we are seeing time and time again, to go all in. People are risk-averse and no matter how confident someone is, asking them to lay down all their (fake!) money/points is too hard. We’ll need someone with Nate’s skill level and luck finding DD’s, but with that willingness to bet everything every time. I’m hoping it’ll eventually be an old woman, I don’t know why, lol, just something like with Ken Jennings – an unexpected winner 🙂

  12. Matt Rose | May 23, 2019 at 2:20 pm |

    When $50,000 is considered a ho hum, disappointing win

  13. Matt Rose | May 23, 2019 at 2:30 pm |

    Think Nate DD bet was strategic . As Nate would have cleaned up by doing an All In DD. But if James doesn’t get the second DD, 2 picks later. Nate is leading 20,000 to James 8,000. And if Nate went all in on the first DD. Then it could have been James 8,000 and Nate 0. So the bad thing was James getting the second DD, Only 2 spots later, and then of course, getting it right.

    • If a smart, quick player doesn’t eventually play with the same aggressive nature that James has, James may never lose. James has picked an incredibly high percentage of the available DD’s, Nate needed to assume that James was going to pick the second DD at some point and build a lead when he could. Against a normal champion, you may be right, but not against this one.

  14. People keep saying he should have gone all in. Yes, in retrospect, that would have been great. But he had a big lead. And did make a larger bet than most have would’ve “pre James”. He was more than holding his own and at that point had no reason to think that he couldn’t continue. If he had bet it all and lost it, hit the third daily double and had nothing to wager, and lost because of that, people would’ve been shaking their heads. He was beating James….he was good at the buzzer. He made the (what I believe) the right decision…but it just didn’t work.

    • Valid point. I guess it’s easy for us couch surfers to criticize the playing watching at home. But one thing is for certain, this game is hard to win over and over and for those who say they stopped watching because of it, only need this game to remind them that these streaks are hard to come by and are historic in nature. Why would you not want to watch it as a true fan of Jeopardy?

      Anyway, I found it fascinating that even when Nate was 12k ahead deep in the game, James’ composure didn’t seemed rattled at all.

      • Matt Rose | May 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm |

        Well, I think James knows he can lose any Jeopardy game any time… and having a $2,000,000 bank to leave with, is a great consolation. Plus that gives him a lot to either vacation with, or use on his sports betting in Vegas…

      • Part of winning games is keeping your composure and not panicking. James knows that he is a good player and questions could come up in his favour. He also knows that he was facing a dynamite opponent who was quick on the buzzer and quite knowledgeable. He acknowledged that at the end of double jeopardy.

    • Yah, Nate must have been thinking, holy crap, I got him. The 6000 sure seemed enough. And then, boom, an amazing comeback.

      I wonder where this stands in J! Comeback history, especially not including final. I guess a start would be to look at KJs best comebacks. I would think coming back from 12.8k to lead going into Final is up there in J!s history. Including Final would move it down the list obviously.

      Anyways, that was amazing and exciting. I’m definitely going to keep watching!

  15. Christina O. | May 23, 2019 at 4:09 pm |

    Love your list, but no weird “Canada” categories?

  16. James’ daily total equals May 21, 2008. I’m sure it was a purposeful total and most of these daily totals will have some meaning to his life. Wonder what this date is in reference?

    • Unless he’s looking forward to something which will happen 89 years from now… 😀

  17. Bill Madden | May 23, 2019 at 5:31 pm |

    Here’s a question. How much has the traffic to your site spiked since James being on the show? Lol. I, myself, never heard of this site until him. I live in an area where the show comes on at 7pm but find myself unable to wait till then do I spoil it for myself and come here to find the winner out early, lmao.

    • I spoil it for myself, too, but, on the upside, my husband is amazed at how often I get the Final Jeopardy question correct.

  18. James would have bet something similar to Nate. He rarely goes all-in in DJ unless it’s very early. This might have been James’ first all-in on DD3?

    • Matt Rose | May 23, 2019 at 7:10 pm |

      Correct. But that is also because James smartly bets on the 3rd DD, Whatever gives him a cushion where he is pretty sure to stay on top, till FJ, and guarantee himself a win before the FJ question.

  19. Matt Rose | May 23, 2019 at 7:17 pm |

    Just noticed Nate is using James stance and his buzzer push. And it’s working as shown above, James had a 42% first in while Nate was 37% or I think James had 26 while Nate had 24. Poor Nate is going to be pissed watching James in the future as he could and should have beaten James.

  20. Woooo, exciting game today! I wasn’t home the night he played Levin and I’m almost glad I missed it. My heart can’t take this kind of stress.

  21. Prithvi Sudhakar | May 23, 2019 at 8:23 pm |

    How long has James been gambling? Because he sure is good, as demonstrated in his appearances so far!

    I feel like any other champion who faces off against him should consider his gaming strategy so they can get a feel for what the game is like, now that there is this sort of “all-new” champion” who plays the game unlike any other.

    I feel like his life motto is “Keep calm and gamble 24/7”.

  22. Fredda Jaffe | May 23, 2019 at 8:28 pm |

    Would love to see a rematch with James and Adam Levin, who only lost by less than $5.00. Nate could play too but only if he promised to bet more on DD.

    • Fredda:
      Adam lost by $18.

      • Incognito123 | May 23, 2019 at 9:40 pm |

        Yes $18 on his 18th win in a row, no doubt that was NOT by accident!!! With James, it is ALL about numbers, whatever he is thinking, but it comes down to THE NUMBERS!!!

    • Jay Rosenberg | May 23, 2019 at 9:25 pm |

      Don’t look at the final total or the final difference – with all due respect to Adam – it was Nate who made the better FJ wager – because on a double miss, Adam loses but Nate wins. Nate left himself with two paths to victory, but Adam only one (James misses, Adam gets it right).

  23. The dog sat on the remote just as we were about to see the answers & scoring!!! Thank you for this – whoo hoo!!!

  24. It looked to me like if Nate had bet his whole pile at FJ, then James’s $20,000 bet would have let Nate win? What did I miss?

  25. Prithvi Sudhakar | May 23, 2019 at 8:38 pm |

    Also, today, I saw that he had his name arranged like

    Let’s say he’s the kind of guy that “gives 110%”.

    • Incognito123 | May 23, 2019 at 9:46 pm |

      I saw that right away, he loves doing all kinds of things with his name!! I really like his personality, with his name, he gave a thumbs up to Nate at the end, that was really gracious of him to acknowledge a good competitor! James has a cool demeanor, and laid back “no tie” clothes, but he is also very professional & respectful in how he behaves, I’ve never seem him appear to rub in his losses against his opponents, that says a lot about him! He’s very focused on winning and really zoned in, but not in any bad way, just hyper focused on his self-driven mission.

  26. Vader47000 | May 24, 2019 at 3:02 am |

    My brother and I were having a discussion about a scenario that would likely never come up but I was curious if the rules would address it.

    The situation is that two players are eliminated at the end of Double Jeopardy, leaving just one player in Final Jeopardy (which has happened a few times, last on March 12, 2015 near as I can tell).

    Now, the question becomes, if that single remaining player bets everything in FJ and ends up with $0, are they also eliminated or are they automatically the champ by virtue of the tiebreaker rules that are based on who is in front at the end of the last completed round without a tie? (For example, in a game in which the players end with $0, $-200 and $-500, does the $0 player win and get to come back?) Or do the Jeopardy rules actually state someone needs at least $1 to return to the next game as champion?

    My hunch is that the producers would make sure they didn’t bet everything, but we thought the underlying hypothetical was interesting enough to wonder if anyone outside of the show knew if there were an answer. After poking around Google for a while I haven’t been able to pinpoint an official Jeopardy rulebook or anything that goes into that much depth.

    The potential scenario evolved from at first assuming a FJ player in such a situation would simply be eliminated like any other contestant with no money, making me wonder what their consolation prize would be. (Here at least some digging around leads me to conclude it would be $2000).

    • Patrick Byrnes | May 24, 2019 at 6:19 am |

      Vader, in your scenario, the contestant would have to be an absolute fool to bet it all. With that said, there’s been a handful of shows where all 3 contestants got to FJ, bet it all, and got them all wrong.

      So to answer your question, if one player made it through to FJ, risked all of their stack, and was incorrect, there’d be 3 new contestants on the next show.

      • Vader47000 | May 24, 2019 at 7:03 am |

        I know there have been games with all three contestants in FJ losing all their money. The hypothetical is about the degree to which the actual rules specify a requirement to advance beyond simply having more “points” than the other players (which, in a game in which both other players are in the negative, a player with $0 would). Of course it would be foolish to make such a wager and my own assumption has always been it would be cause for elimination, but I just was curious what the actual language of the rule was.

  27. Jocelyn Foreacre | May 24, 2019 at 7:17 am |

    If he bet all 13,400 on that daily double Nate could have been in the lead. We don’t want that to happen!

    • You’re correct in that all-in on the Daily Double would have given Nate the lead, but there are some fans out there who would have wanted that.

  28. Prithvi Sudhakar | May 24, 2019 at 7:54 am |

    Believe it or not, Jeopardy! has held a J! Insider on James’s winning streak!

  29. MojaveDon | May 24, 2019 at 8:38 pm |

    Very, very few Jeopardy! Contestants can afford to use James DD strategy. It only works for him because he knows 97% of the answers. This would be disastrous for the average contestant. Go big only in the categories where you have a very good background and go easy on the others.

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