Jeopardy! Masters writer claps back after fan accuses James Holzhauer of ‘not answering in the form of a question’

The Daily Retina

A JEOPARDY! Masters viewer has voiced their displeasure with James Holzhauer responding to multiple clues without adhering to the show’s sacred format.

The Jeopardy! writer who wrote them explained why James’ responses were above the board on Twitter.


James was deemed correct with ‘How Do You Sleep?’ for this clue[/caption]

And correct once more for ‘What’s New Pussycat’


A Jeopardy! fan tweeted: ‘James answered three questions without saying ‘What is…’ did the judges miss this?’[/caption]

James won the Masters crown and $500,000 by the thinnest of margins on Thursday’s fierce finale of the three-week special.

One episode earlier, James competed in a way that a fan felt was questionable.

Under the Double Jeopardy! category “Questionable Music Choices” during Wednesday’s semifinals a 1200 clue read: “In a 2019 single Sam Smith asked this question of a lying lover.”

James was deemed correct with “How do you sleep?” – not having added the essential: “What is.”

Then for 800, a clue in the same category read: “John Mulaney has an amazing story of selecting 21 songs on a diner’s jukebox of this 1965 Tom Jones hit.”

James was deemed correct with “What’s New Pussycat?” – once more not doing so.

Then, James could be seen selecting yet one more clue in the round which read: “We’ll lend some Creedence to this category as CCR sang ”& I wonder, still wonder- this title.”

James was deemed correct once more with: “Who’ll stop the rain?”

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The fan was bothered as earlier in the category, Mattea did add “What is” before their correct response, while James didn’t.

The fan wrote: “In this #JeopardyMasters semi-final that aired on the 23rd, Mattea answers in the form of a question, then James answers THREE without saying ‘What is…’ did the judges miss this?

“He should have been docked 2400 points. He should have even said “What’s ‘What’s New Pussycat’.”

According to Jeopardy! rules: “If a contestant gives a response to a non-Daily Double clue in the Jeopardy! round that is not in the form of a question, the host will give them a reminder.

“However, if a contestant forgets their phrasing in the Double Jeopardy! round, during Final Jeopardy! or for any Daily Double clue, they will be ruled incorrect.”

James wasn’t ruled incorrect despite not adding “What is” or “Who is” – however, writer Mark Gaberman said that because the clues themselves were questions, this was a rare instance where it was allowed.

In fact, the writer structured the category this way on purpose.


Mark replied: “I can help here. I wrote this category, very much hoping someone (or all 3) would respond without using ‘what is’.

All are already in the form of a question, and I thought it would be fun to hear them said that way. It really is different, that’s for sure!”

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Another fan then praised the writer for “Bringing it” with great clues during Masters.


After getting a run for his money from runner-up Mattea Roach– who uses they/them pronouns – James prevailed with the most match points to win Masters.

Ken Jennings announced that all three finalists will be guaranteed slots in next year’s Masters – and James won an additional $100,000 for Project 150 (which helps Las Vegas-area high school students with insecure housing).

Mattea went home with $250,000 for second place, and Matt Amodio $150,000 for placing third.

“They tested you to the limit, but you are our first-ever Jeopardy Masters champion,” Ken told James upon his hard-fought win.

James whispered “Your dad would be so proud of you” and went over and hugged Mattea before he was given the Trebek Trophy.

Mattea lost by a mere 2100 combined points and pushed James to the brink, especially impressive since they were reeling from the sudden loss of her father at 57 which took place while filming the tournament.

Phillip Henry Roach died of a brain aneurysm on May 2, 2023 at his family home in Canada while Mattea was “at the set of Jeopardy!,” they tearfully revealed on stage they were dedicating their performance to him.

James tweeted after winning the title: “Mattea’s performance would have been unbelievable in the best of times.

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Considering everything they went through this month, this was the gutsiest Jeopardy! achievement since Cindy Stowell’s.

An absolute, star-making masterclass in how to play the game.

I’m lucky the scores were even this close entering Final. I benefited from more luck in the end. But no one will forget Mattea’s #JeopardyMasters dominance.”

Twitter/ Markgaberman

The Jeopardy! writer responded that the category’s intended responses were ‘already in the form of a question’ – purposefully making ‘what is’ unecessary[/caption]


James won Jeopardy! Masters by just 2100 points over Mattea Roach with a slightly savvier final wager[/caption]


James wrote to Twitter: ‘Mattea’s performance would have been unbelievable in the best of times’[/caption]

Source: The US Sun