James Holzhauer’s Wife Melissa Sassin Was a Competitor on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'

James Holzhauer stunned fans of “Jeopardy” when he smashed its single-game record. But his wife shares his love for game shows as she once became a successful game show contestant herself.

On April 9, 2019, James set a new single-game record with a $110,914 win, which added to his massive total of $460,479 won over eight games on “Jeopardy.”

His wife, Melissa Sassin Holzhauer appeared as a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in 2014, while Cedric the Entertainer still hosted the show. With the couple living in Seattle, Washington at the time, she walked away with $28,800, while James cheered her on from his seat in the audience.

With Melissa’s impressive academic background, it’s no surprise that she walked away with such a significant amount of cash. From 2006 to 2009, she attended the University of Washington where she got a degree in classical literature, linguistics, and languages. Then she attended Brown University where she obtained her master’s degree in classics and classical languages in 2012.

Melissa Sassin Holzhauer on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire." | Source: YouTube/ James Holzhauer.

Melissa Sassin Holzhauer on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire." | Source: YouTube/ James Holzhauer.

Melissa and Illinois native James got married in 2012 and welcomed their daughter into the world in 2015. At the time of James’ win, he worked as a professional sports gambler while Melissa became an ACT and academic tutor in the Vegas area.

Both James and Melissa took part in the World Quizzing Championships in 2012 before they got married. And according to the competition’s website, James finished in 34th place while Melissa placed 154th.

With James’ performance on “Jeopardy,” he beat the single-game record previously set by the computer scientist Roger Craig in 2010 at $77,000 with leaps and bounds.

Both Craig and James won $13,000 during their Jeopardy! rounds, but James pulled ahead of Craig during the Double Jeopardy rounds. He wagered his entire $14,600 winnings on the Daily Double and later, with $46,800 in his pocket, he wagered $25,000.

But James had a game plan and didn’t place his bets randomly, as he explained during a break between rounds. The betting amounts all correlated with dates of family birthdays and anniversaries.

His final bet on April 9, 2019, which gave him the record-breaking number of $110,914, coincidentally corresponded to his daughter’s birthday on November 9, 2014. With his explanation, James also solved the mystery of why he wrote, “Happy birthday booger” below his final answer.

However, James’ success on the show didn’t stop there, as his winning streak continued along with his record-setting trend. With an astonishing 24 wins in a row, he became the most successful contestant on “Jeopardy” that’s been on the air for 50 years.