O'Donnell: Would Holzhauer benefit by pulling his own 'Jeopardy!' buzzer?

  • Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick presented "Jeopardy!" sensation James Holzhauer with a key to the Las Vegas Strip earlier this month.

    Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick presented "Jeopardy!" sensation James Holzhauer with a key to the Las Vegas Strip earlier this month. Associated Press

 
Updated 5/22/2019 7:51 PM

EMPIRICALLY OR MERELY in the pop cultural mind, who's ever retired gracefully undefeated?

Rocky Marciano?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Johnny Carson?

Susan B. Anthony?

Not Ali. Not Jordan. Not Ruth.

Not the Beatles. Not Obama. (He lost a Congressional primary to Bobby Rush in 2000.)

Certainly not "Game of Thrones."

So, why not James Holzhauer?

Would the Naperville-bred "Jeopardy!" phenom be giving his expanding brand a tremendous jolt of Garboesque mystique -- and future bankability -- by simply ending one episode of the big "J!" with a scribbled "Final Jeopardy!" response of:

"Thank you Alex and America. … Who is gone for now?"

"Me … wee!"

Outrageous?

Yes.

Out of the box?

Absolutely.

Potentially incredibly self-serving?

Ding, ding, ring-a-ding.

Consider: Holzhauer now personifies new-mill unorthodoxy. He's incredibly smart, potentially charismatic and -- if he can ever turn down the wattage on that occasionally annoying Bucky Ipana grin -- the possible owner of an enduring likability.

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Who is the only long-lasting American celebrity who reached and stayed with the stars by winning on a quiz show?


Answer: Dr. Joyce Brothers (kids, Wikipedia).

She was the telegenic New York psychologist who became the first woman to win the top prize on "The $64,000 Question" by answering a series of questions about boxing.

Brothers then went on to become Dr. Phil long before Dr. Phil. She supplemented her TV work with books, a long association with Good Housekeeping magazine and a newspaper advice column that ran for 53 years before her passing in 2013.

Sure, "Jeopardy!" has had a big champion before in million-time winner Ken Jennings.

But he was so Gen-Huh?, so Utah academic. He made Watson, the IBM computer, look like Sebastian Maniscalco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If Holzhauer is the Neil Armstrong of a new-think intellectual moon, Jennings was Laika, the Russian space dog.

Given the delay of the "Jeopardy!" taping-to-airing sequence -- a lag of almost three months -- maybe Holzhauer has already lost.

Or, maybe he's going into the show's summer production break this month still the one.

There is no question that he is a welcome star for the times, a confident, creative, self-reliant beacon of the new and the now amid an America far too wearied by the relentlessness of polarizing politics and institutional doubt.

So, James, if the option is still there, continue the unorthodoxy and add some mystique:

Take the money and run.

With leave for a graceful return and options forward as yet not buzzed in on.

STREET-BEATIN': Nitpick Joe Maddon all the way back to The Third Base Luncheonette in Hazelton (Pa.), but his decision to hold Javy Baez as a pinch-hitter until the ninth inning vs. Philadelphia Tuesday night was genius by any analytical standard. Now, as noted by ESPN's astute Eduardo Perez, the Theocracy has to figure a way to sign or even lease Craig Kimbrel to show that it's all in on the 2019 season -- wiser men say June 6-7 loom as destiny's dates. ... Proving that frigid spring nights in Chicago have no baseball allegiance, Groupon has been listing tickets as low as $6 for both Cubs and Sox weeknight home games in recent weeks. ... Vegas Stats and Info (vsin.com) is reporting that Boston is up as a -150 favorite over St. Louis (+135) in the Stanley Cup Finals, which open Monday night; Sharpies are saying front-end stars and goalies will cancel each other, meaning the series will be decided by the degree of attrition and urgent impact that the defensive brutes of the Blues can deliver. … Aging Canadian yapper Drake violated all Jack Nicholson Courtside Code of Conduct limits with his trolling of Milwaukee sky streaker Giannis Antetokounmpo during Toronto's wins in Games 3 and 4 of the EC Finals; Yanni A and fans of The Feared Deer get a chance to serve up some payback brew in Game 5 (Thursday, TNT, 7:30 p.m.). … Notable that billboards attempting to pump juice into cellar-sniffing AM-1000 have been cropping up throughout the Chicago area. Apparently passive promotion is supposed to be a substitute for vision, vigor and fresh broadcast air. … Young Richard LaVeau III of Arlington Heights will carry on a grand family tradition when he graduates from medical school this weekend. LaVeau -- who told the Blackhawks not to draft him while a star goalie at D-I Clarkson (N.Y.) University -- is the son of Rick and Cathy LaVeau, nephew of Dr. Robert LaVeau and grandson of beaming Dr. Dick and Rose LaVeau. … And news that NBC Sports Chicago is debuting a new fan-driven penny saver called "Outside the Ivy" generated nothing but chortles among the more irony driven because that's exactly where challenged senior veep Kevin Cross and Co. will be in October when the Cubs bolt for their Marquee Network.

jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com

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