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SF resident had chance to beat ‘Jeopardy!’ phenom Holzhauer

SANTA FE — Santa Fe resident Maryanne Mowen had her chance to take out James Holzhauer, who became a national celebrity as he racked up 32 consecutive victories on the “Jeopardy!” game show before losing on the episode that was broadcast Monday.

Mowen was one of Holzhauer’s early victims, competing against him in the third game of his streak on the show that aired on April 8.

Maryanne Mowen

While she placed third that day, the 70-year-old accounting professional isn’t ashamed of losing to Holzhauer, who set a new standard for how to play the game, attacking the higher valued answers at the bottom of the board first and seeking out daily doubles. The 34-year-old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada, would jack up his score/winnings by betting heavily on the daily doubles.

“He could do that. He has a broad knowledge,” Mowen said, adding that Holzhauer’s intellect was “a couple standard deviations” higher than the average person.

Mowen’s pretty smart herself. An accounting professor for 33 years at Oklahoma State University before she and her husband moved to Santa Fe seven or eight years ago, she beat out 85,000 other people who took the online “Jeopardy!” test just to get an audition for the show. She then beat some more competitors at the audition in Los Angeles, which involved taking another quiz and participating in a mock game against other hopefuls.

And while her total of $10,000 was well short of Holzhauer’s winning amount of $43,815, Mowen matched Holzhauer on a tough Final Jeopardy! at the end of the game.

Both gave the correct question — “What are the Munchkins?” for the Final Jeopardy! answer: “On June 6, 2018, the Chinese Theatre dimmed its lights to honor Jerry Maren, who lived to the greatest age of any of this 1939 group.”

Mowen said she had very little interaction with Holzhauer.

“You’re all together in the green room, but there’s so much going on you don’t have time to chat,” she said, adding that her impression of Holzhauer was that he was “a very pleasant guy.”

She said she enjoyed the experience.

“I had a very good time. It was a positive experience,” she said. “I just wish I would have won.”