James Holzhauer is spreading his wealth. The Jeopardy! champion, who walked away with nearly $2.5 million after his 32-game streak, has donated part of his prize money to a Chicago-area pancreatic cancer walk in honor of the show’s host, Alex Trebek.
A fan of the show invited Holzhauer to the walk in Naperville, Ill., where gameshow whiz once resided. Ann Zediker watched Holzhauer’s final episode on Jeopardy!, during which Trebek thanked the contestant’s daughter for writing him a get-well card. Zediker lost her father to pancreatic cancer in 2010 and thought she “had nothing to lose” by reaching out. “My heart told me it was the right thing to do,” she told CNN.
Even though Holzhauer told Zediker he wasn’t able to attend the event, he still donated to the cause in the amount of $1109.14, which represented his daughter Natasha’s birthday. “For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors,” he wrote.
“There was no expectation on my end,” Zediker said. “I was just thrilled that he responded. I knew that Alex’s story had an impact on him, just like it has an impact on anyone who’s working with a family member who’s going through pancreatic cancer.”
Holzhauer has already donated money to Las Vegas-based organizations, including $10,000 to a library district to support early learning. During his run on the show, the Vegas professional sports gambler was known for his effective strategy of making risky, aggressive bets. The episode where he finally lost became the show’s most-watched in 15 years, reportedly notching 14.5 million same-day viewers. It also was the third most-watched regularly scheduled series episode of the 2018-19 television season, after The Big Bang Theory series finale and a December episode of 60 Minutes, according to reports.
As for Trebek, it seems that with his cancer in remission, he will be able to return to host for Jeopardy’s next season. “I’m continuing with my therapy and we, by we, the staff is already working on our next season, the 36th year of Jeopardy!” he said back in April. “So I look forward to seeing you once again in September with all kinds of good stuff.”