Spoiler alert: This story contains details about Thursday's episode of "Jeopardy!"
James Holzhauer is making the most of his "Jeopardy!" rematch – but it's not over yet.
Holzhauer, one of the classic game show's all-time champs, put himself in great position Thursday to win the show's annual Tournament of Champions and claim a victory against Emma Boettcher, the challenger who ended his 32-game winning streak in June.
Halfway through the two-night finale, Las Vegas professional sports gambler Holzhauer has $49,326, nearly double the $26,400 tallied by University of Chicago user-experience librarian Boettcher. The third finalist, "Jeopardy!" teachers contest winner Francois Barcomb of New Paltz, New York, finished with $1,800 in Thursday's contest.
The three will compete again on Friday's show (syndicated, check local listings), with the contestant with the highest two-night money total being crowned champ and taking home the $250,000 grand prize.
With a lead of nearly $23,000, Holzhauer will be hard to beat, but the question arises whether the show's second-biggest money winner will tone down his aggressive, high-wager playing strategy to avoid risking his big cushion.
This year's tourney, which started with 15 top players from the most recent season, already has made news for a noncompetitive reason.
On Monday's show, "Jeopardy!" college champ Dhruv Gaur authored a heart-warming tribute to host Alex Trebek, substituting "We (heart) you Alex!" in place of a Final Jeopardy answer.
Trebek, 79, who has received big support from fans as he fights stage 4 pancreatic cancer, appreciated the sentiment.
"That's very kind of you, thank you. It cost you $1,995. You're left with $5," he said, his voice trembling. "OK."
Some "Jeopardy!" alumni are organizing a fundraiser to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. Larry Martin, the 2018 Teachers Tournament winner, died of the disease in January.
They are encouraging viewers playing at home during the finals episodes to donate $1 for each correct response they come up with to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alex Trebek presides over Holzhauer, Boettcher 'Jeopardy!' rematch