Hobby Musings: Catching up with Jeopardy Champion James Holzhauer – Few Jeopardy contestants have received the notoriety on Jeopardy that James Holzhauer has. Earning over $2 million in winnings from his appearances on the show, Holzhauer became an sensation as fans checked daily to see how he performed on the show. His notoriety has earned him, among other things, the distinction of appearing on a trading card as he’ll be in Topps’ 2019 Allen & Ginter set. In advance of his appearance at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention, he was kind enough to take some time to talk with me via email about his card and other experiences with sports memorabilia.
KS: James, first off, belated congratulations on your incredible Jeopardy run. How has your notoriety on the show impacted your life in terms of people asking you for things like photos or autographs?
JH: Lots of people have requested photos, but I haven’t encountered too many autograph seekers. Maybe it’s because everyone carries a camera phone but not a Sharpie?
KS: When was the first time you were ever asked to sign an autograph?
JH: One of my opponents at a junior high math contest requested an autograph, which has to be the earliest one I’ve given.
KS: What is the strangest thing someone has asked you to sign?
JH: I suppose the strangest autograph request I got was a bridge scorecard at my local card club, or maybe one I did for a collection of famous poker players when I played at this year’s World Series of Poker. (I almost never play poker, so I don’t really belong there.)
KS: Did you keep any memorabilia/mementos from Jeopardy?
JH: They don’t really let you take much home from the Sony studios, but you do get a Jeopardy baseball cap…when you lose. It took me quite a few taping days to earn mine!
KS: You’re going to be appearing at the National Sports Collectors Convention later this month in Chicago. How are you feeling about being at the show and what all will you be doing there?
JH: It’s a great opportunity to support my friend Rob’s business, and it sounds like they have some fun stuff planned: trivia game, opening some old cards and reminiscing about cardboard and unchewable sticks of gum. I might do some signings for charity if the demand is there.
KS: Are you going to be looking for any items to collect while you’re at the show?
JH: There’s already not a lot of room at my home to display anything other than my four-year-old’s latest paintings, but you never know what will catch your eye at a convention like this. And I think I can afford it now!
KS: It was recently announced that you’ll be in this year’s Topps Allen & Ginter set. How did you feel when you found out you were getting a trading card?
JH: It was definitely one of the coolest moments of my year. As an outsider to the business, I actually thought I’d need to spend some money to make the trading card happen, or at best do it for free. To actually get paid to make a card and sign autographs seemed too good to be true. Upper Deck is talking about making a card too, so fans may have two options soon.
KS: Can you give us a little background on the photo on the card and how it was decided on.
JH: It was the one that Jeopardy was willing to let me use at that time! I think it looks kind of funny on the actual card, like I’m wearing a suit jacket at a park for some reason.
KS: Did you collect trading cards/memorabilia while you were growing up?
JH: I was very into baseball cards as a kid, although my first priority was to collect everyone’s stats and input them to an Excel spreadsheet, since there was no baseball-reference back then. I once bought some 1993 Studio cards that talked about the players’ hobbies instead of how many triples they hit that year, and I was not pleased.
KS: Will you be trying to get any of your own cards once they’re released?
JH: Topps sent me a bunch of cards for friends and family, and I’ll definitely keep one for myself. I hope Upper Deck will do the same!
KS: Besides the National, what else do you have coming up?
JH: The Cubs have invited me to be their guest at Wrigley on August 3, which is a childhood dream come true.
James Holzhauer will be on the Main Stage at the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention on Friday, August 2nd at 1:00 PM. He’ll participate in an interview and audience Q&A. Select audience members can join James in a game of “Hobby Jeopardy” for a chance to win a box of sports cards! For more details, check out our 2019 NSCC Attendee Guide.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Hobby Musings: Catching up with Jeopardy Champion James Holzhauer
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