Rocky Balboa had Ivan Drago. Daniel Larusso had Johnny Lawrence. And in Danger! world, James Holzhauer has Ken Jennings. The two have battled their wits, knowledge and intellect in the game series over the years. It’s a rivalry built on mutual respect, their record credentials speak for themselves.
Jennings edged out Holzhauer and Brad Rutter Danger! The greatest of all time in 2020. So there are bragging rights there. However, “High Roller” Holzhauer has come back winning recently Danger! MASTERS tour with “Professor” Jennings directly assisting him as the show’s host on the sidelines.
I caught up with Holzhauer while promoting tracking to get his thoughts on Jennings as host of Danger! and whether there will ever be another quizmaster showdown in the game.
Ken said he will most likely never compete Danger! again because he is afraid to face you. How do I answer?
James Holzhauer: It’s funny. I heard backstage gossip that he didn’t want to be in The best ever because he thought it would be too tough a competition for him. Obviously, it wasn’t. I think he’s still at the top of his game, probably. It would be fun to have a rematch against him. I do not know if Danger! the rules would allow this.
What do you think about Ken? Danger! host?
I think he does the best job. It’s kind of an impossible role to replace Alex Trebek. I think he’s doing his best to be Ken. Not trying to be like the one before him, but creating his own role.
Have you ever thought about hosting a show like Danger! or tracking or a spin off?
I think that would be fun. The role I have at tracking where I am a personality but also a competitor is a great use of my talents. hope tracking it goes on for at least another 10 seasons, but if not, I think that hosting role would be great.
Were you encouraged by the show bosses to uphold the image of the “supers” or something they just embraced?
When I showed up at Danger! Masters, they asked me what occupation I wanted to be on the list. I said villainous half-jokingly, but honestly it’s kind of true. I gave up gambling a bit. This is how I make my money being this television personality. The producers came to me saying, “We can’t put this on. The audience will think we’re making fun of you. What if we put in a self-described villain? It would be good? I like. It adds something to the equation where it becomes who we’re rooting for here. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s something to be said for bringing a little more personality to the table.
You were on Danger! so many times. Would you change anything?
Behind the scenes there was a lot of turnover, I will say. The entire production team is back, so you see some things were lost when they changed hands there. I think it’s still a great show, but it could use a few tweaks here and there. Some of the written questions could be a little clearer than it was.
Ken might be that classic rival for you, but who would you say is your biggest rival?
I think Mattea Roach in the semis and finals MASTERS tournament played as well as Ken. It’s hard to argue with the person who beat me loudly The best ever tournament though. I think Mattea on her best day could take Ken.
It’s incredible to see Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and other game shows continue to explode in popularity. We see moments that go viral with competitors like you becoming even more recognizable. Do you get a lot of fan mail as a result? Maybe from women?
I don’t know if there is a gender imbalance in my fan mail. My wife definitely takes it a little more personally when she’s a woman. It slowed down a bit, but it was never overwhelming. It’s nice to know there are people out there who support this product and make it so I can make a living. I would say most are respectful. I love that they’re there… I think the comment section on Facebook, though with the older fans, they didn’t like the villainous character that I was putting out there.
You watch Wheel of Fortune? How did you receive the news of host Pat Sajak’s retirement?
I have not looked the wheel for a while, but I grew up. It’s strange to think of anyone else hosting these beloved programs. I know there are some people who have always talked about this show or who would never be the same without saying that Richard Dawson hosts Family quarrel. But I never went through that transition with a beloved show. It is certainly a difficult thing.
Are there any other shows you like to watch?
I have very poor taste. I was just watching an episode of IIt’s always sunny in Philadelphia even before you call. I said I like professional wrestling, sports. I don’t watch historical documentaries or stuff like that… I know there are some people who get into trivia because they’re academics or book people, but that’s not me. I have a brain that retains information, but I don’t always enjoy the process of putting the information into the brain in the first place.
Do you have a favorite TV show?
There are seasons of The Simpsons and Seinfield because you know i’m a 90s kid. I find comfort in those shows.
You won Danger! MASTERS. Will you continue to compete?
I do not know. I did very well MASTERS, but it was a difficult road to the top. I don’t know if I will continue to win all the time, but I will continue to take advantage of the opportunities that will surely arise.
Is there another competition you’d like to take on Ken?
American Ninja Warrior it would be fun if they didn’t mind us running the course. I don’t know how each of us would overcome the obstacles. He’s a bit older than me though, so I’d have an advantage.
trackingThursday, 9/8c, ABC
Danger!on weekdays, check local listings