Tribune Wrote About Jeopardy! Whiz ... When He Was 4

Paper digs up article on James Holzhauer
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2019 9:08 AM CDT
He's Stunning Fans on Jeopardy! He Used to Stun His Preschool
This image made from video aired on "Jeopardy!" on April 17, 2019, shows James Holzhauer.   (Jeopardy Productions, Inc. via AP)

Long before he was racking up win after win—and oodles of cash—on Jeopardy!, James Holzhauer was impressing an entirely different demographic: his preschool teachers. The Chicago Tribune has unearthed an article that appeared in its pages in January 1989, when Holzhauer was just 4 years old and in junior kindergarten in Downers Grove, Ill. His teacher, Mary Boyle, told the paper at the time that Holzhauer floored her on the first day of school, when she mused aloud that there were 16 boys and 13 girls in the class and wondered what the total number of students would be. "He said 29 and never batted an eye," she says of Holzhauer, whom she called Jamie.

That interaction led to further conferencing with one of the school's math teachers, which in turn led to extra work for Holzhauer to keep him challenged. The Tribune has a picture of the precocious preschooler working with Boyle on one of the hundreds of laminated word problems they threw at him to stimulate his brain, Meanwhile, has dug up an interesting tidbit revealing that game-show savvy is apparently a family thing: In 2014, James' wife, Melissa, took home nearly $30,000 on the daytime version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. James made an appearance in the audience and was part of the on-camera conversation with his wife and host Cedric the Entertainer. (More James Holzhauer stories.)

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