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Why did James Holzhauer bet so little in 'Final Jeopardy!' on Monday?

What seemed like a weird wager by 'Jeopardy! James' makes perfect sense when you do the math.

James Holzhauer's stunning loss on "Jeopardy!" left fans shocked and had many asking the same question: What was he doing with his "Final Jeopardy!" wager? 

Holzhauer has become known for betting big, but during Monday's show he only wagered $1,399 at the end. 

Even "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek seemed a bit taken a back.

“A modest one, for the first time,” Trebek declared.

While it might've seemed a bit odd and out of character for Holzhauer, it all came down to the math and his best chance at possibly winning.  

Going into the final round, he had $23,400 while trailing behind eventual winner Emma Boettcher, who had $26,600. Jay Sexton was firmly in third place with $11,000. 

Holzhauer confirmed to The Action Network that his wager had to do with concerns about the contestant in third place. Holzhauer assumed (correctly) that Boettcher would wager enough to cover an all-in bet by him, so he felt the only chance he had at winning would be if Boettcher missed on the final question. 

But if Boettcher and Holzhauer would've both bet big and got it wrong, then the third place contestant could've squeaked in and taken a surprise victory. 

By betting just $1,399, he ensured he'd have $1 more than what the third place contestant could have possibly had if they doubled down. 

Brad Rutter, the all-time leader in "Jeopardy!" winnings, told The Washington Post it "was absolutely the right wager." 

But because Boettcher got the question right and bet enough to beat Holzhauer, it didn't matter anyway and his streak ended at 32-wins and nearly $2.5 million, just shy of Ken Jennings' regular season "Jeopardy!" record.  

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