this is "nightline." >> tonight, top pick. it's one of the biggest events in pro football. the nfl draft. >> the excitement level here in music city usa is off the charts. >> the life-changing moment for many of the nation's top college athletes. one potential superstar fulfilling a promise to his mom. >> i get drafted to the super bowl, son, i'm so proud of you but you got to get your degree. this is "jeopardy!"! >> game changer. >> returning champion! >> if you're betting against him, chances are you're in jeopardy. the buzzer beater wiping out the competition -- >> all-in. i'm comfortable risking a lot if
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good evening. thanks for joining us. it was a night of epic gamesmanship. the nfl draft. it's a life-changing event for many top college football stars. the dream to play for the pros coming true for the lucky few. >> with the first pick in the 2019 nfl draft, the arizona cardinals select -- kyler murray! oklahoma! >> reporter: tonight, america got a front row seat, watching as a lifetime of football dreams came true. >> arizona has found their murray. >> reporter: it's one of the biggest events in pro football. the nfl draft. >> that is a sea of humanity! 100,000 people! >> reporter: our robin roberts in nashville. >> the excitement level here in music city usa is off the charts. >> reporter: prospects waiting with bated breath hoping to hear their name called. >> the openings is through the roof.
>> reporter: kicking off that coveted first pick, oklahoma quarterback kyler murray to the cardinals. talented in both baseball and football. tonight the nfl won. number two, the san francisco 49ers picking ohio state defensive lineman nick bosa. >> this moment is life-altering. >> reporter: 32 nfl franchises making overnight millionaires of their top selections. >> in just a moment, getting drafted can change a kid's life. you're talking about going from someone who in many cases has next to nothing, to becoming an instant millionaire in a split second. >> with the third pick, the new york jets select quinnen williams, nose tackle -- >> reporter: for 21-year-old defensive tackle quicken williams, the newly minted new york jet, this night was about so much more than football. >> at the beginning, i got a long road ahead -- >> reporter: as he made his way across the stage he was reminded of a promise he made to his mother as she battled breast
cancer nearly 10 years ago. >> i get drafted to the super bowl, son, i'd be so proud of you but you've got to get your degree. she's seen the s prosince i was a little kid. >> taken down! quinnen williams! >> reporter: he's the unanimous first team all-american with a record number of tackles win is the outland trophy the nation's best interior lineman. >> quinnen williams a lot of people think may be the best defensive prospect in this draft. as this joyful, spectacularly athletic presence. >> it's like i started feeling myself again. >> he smiled through a lot of things. why do you think you smile a lot through things that when you're talking about that come across painful? >> i'm blessed. you know what i'm saying? even if i have hurt, i take the things she taught me. i have her still. the things instilled in me. to know she believed in me.
>> reporter: a teacher, four children, but she had a particularly special relationship with quinnen. >> i'd go everywhere with her. go to the mall, i'd sit with her. sitting in the room waiting on her. with her 24/7. >> they were like two peas in a pod. they always liked to do everything together. >> reporter: it was his mother's wish that he take care of his family. now he joins hundreds of other young men who have spent so much of their lives sacrificing and training. >> in many ways the nfl draft transcends football. it's not just about the game on the field or who's the right fit for the right team. there's the dream that anybody can become a star. >> reporter: tonight's event bigger than ever with an appeal to more than just sports fans. even taylor swift got into the celebration. >> you've been down in the green room. >> i have a lot of emotions about the whole thing. it's so -- i don't know. it's great. it's just such a wonderful night. thank you for having me. >> reporter: it's the red carpet.
>> that's got to be close to when what you wore. >> reporter: for hopeful athletes. >> it is now part nfl, part hollywood, part vegas. >> reporter: espn's tom rinaldi in the again room. >> part of the magic of the draft is every one of us has some aspiration. rarely do we achieve it in such an absolutely public way. >> the new york giants select -- daniel jones. >> and that is the beginning of your professional career. >> reporter: these young men hopefully joining a roster of first-round picks that went on to greatness. >> you've got peyton manning, you've got dan marino, you've got ray lewis, you've got todd gurley. >> think about what it means to be tabbed a top five pick. all the expectation that comes with that. who can bear up against that burden? >> reporter: but there are plenty of hot prospects who didn't pan out. >> ryan leif picked after peyton manning. he went next to the san diego chargers and everything went downhill from there and he never
became great. got that bust label. >> bust is a brutal word. no one wants to be considered or labeled a bust. but the truth is, that's a deep part of the history of the draft. players who have been one or two or three or five who never had anything close to success in the league. >> for every success story there's a failure. there's the first-round pick, whether it's johnny manziel, ryan leif, rg3, demarcus russell. >> you can do all the research you want, you can do all the scouting you want, but you never really know what you're going to get until after you draft a guy and he actually plays. >> reporter: some of the nfl's greatest players were picked near the bottom. >> the person who comes to mind is tom brady. here's a guy was picked in the sixth round. nobody thought much of him. not a physical specimen by any imagination. not someone who was destined for stardom. ended up in the right spot and when the time came he took it
and he's become the greatest quarterback of all time. >> reporter: the spectacle of today. year after year the draft growing to become an institution, giving student athletes the opportunity to pursue their professional dreams. third pick, quinnen williams, the bride of birmingham, alabama. his path to the nfl is paved with triumph and grief. he remembers when his mother's loving smile began to wane. in 2010 her breast cancer returned. this time it was stage 4. >> she wasn't smiling no more. she wasn't playing with me no more. she was serious. >> reporter: before her last breath, marquesha, surrounded by family, had one last message for her 12-year-old son. >> quinnen, you're going to be the one who take care of everybody, you're going to be the one who makes sure everybody is straight, i need you to do that. 10 seconds later, beep! >> reporter: marquesha died on august 10th, 2010. she was 37. >> after that i didn't talk to nobody for a long time.
like some years before i started. >> what do you mean you didn't talk to nobody for years? >> nobody. i was more like -- >> one-word answers. >> yeah. >> what made that change, when did that change? >> it changed probably when i got in college. i went to alabama, there was so many people who went through the same thing i went through, damn, i can't -- you know what i'm saying? i can't be carrying myself like this just closed in. >> reporter: he kept his promise, dutifully cooking dinner for his siblings every night. his mother's passing lit a flame. motivating him to push harder, to become the athlete he is today. so this night he says he shares with her. a seat for marquesha left open tonight. >> what do you want to say to her tonight? >> that i did it, man. i know that she probably don't want me to get complacent, keep working, finish my degree. >> reporter: before that long walk across the stage he had one more to make, to his mother's grave, to be with her one more time and let her know that her
dream, their dream, was about to come true. >> if she was here today and seen me, she'd see all i been through. the conversations i had with her, i would have had with her. now i see it's my destiny to like be the person who can take care of my family for the rest of their life and my life. >> you can catch continuing nfl draft coverage right here on abc tomorrow. up next, you'll never guess who won "jeopardy!" tonight. ttee room smelling like sweaty odors. yup, he's gone noseblind. he thinks it smells fine, but his mom smells this... luckily for all your hard-to-wash fabrics... ...there's febreze fabric refresher. febreze doesn't just mask, it eliminates odors you've... ...gone noseblind to. and try febreze unstopables for fabric. with up to twice the fresh scent power, you'll want to try it... ...again and again and maybe just one more time. indulge in irresistible freshness. febreze unstopables. breathe happy.
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his winning streak just shy of breaking the game's record. and abc's maggie rulli points out the secrets to his strategy that's shaking up the world of game shows. >> this is "jeopardy!"! >> methuselah. parisian. prima ballerina. >> reporter: the cyborg of trivia. the perfect "jeopardy!" contestant. quick on his feet, even quicker with his buzzer. >> who is paul revere? >> reporter: james holzhauer has racked up win after win after win. but the real headline, how much he's winning and how fast. >> 14-day total of $1,061,554. >> you know, it's kind of hard to remember that "jeopardy!" may be my world right now but it's not everyone's. >> reporter: the world is definitely watching. game show producer bob bodden says he's never seen anything quite like the 34-year-old professional sports gambler. >> quiz shows kill for contestants like james who get
the show attention and are exciting to watch and everybody is on the edge of their seats every night to see how james will do and how much he's going to win and will he set another record tonight? >> reporter: holzhauer talked to espn about his game strategy, including what might be the biggest key to his success. >> i practiced buzzing at home. i read an e-book called "secrets of the buzzer." go check amazon. it had a lot of helpful advice in that regard. maybe it wasn't all luck. >> reporter: then there are those really, really big bets on the daily doubles. >> $11,914. >> i'm comfortable ricking a lot if i know i have a big edge. >> reporter: his ability to do that comes from his background as a professional gambler. he says you have to be ready to lose sometimes. >> there was a game last week where i bet $8,400, lost it all. when i had $7,200 on the next daily double, i knew it was the right play to go all in again, so i did it. >> reporter: reminding many people of ken jennings. >> i used to be mr. "jeopardy!"
but no longer. >> reporter: jennings holds the longest winning streak from "jeopardy!" in 2004. >> what's an elephant seal? >> reporter: this is how he and holzhauer stack up. jennings won 74 straight episodes. holzhauer is at 16 and counting. it took jennings 30 full games to break the million-dollar mark. it took holzhauer not even half that, just 14. in the end jennings won more than $2.5 million. holzhauer is at $1.2 million so far. >> you know, it's really an honors to be compared to ken at all. but i think it's interesting because we have such different approaches to the game. you know, to use a sports metaphor, he's a seattle guy, i'm more of a las vegas guy. different ways of coming at the game, which i think is pretty cool. >> reporter: this isn't holzhauer's first run at game show domination. here he is in 2014 on a show called "the chase." >> julia child. air force one. cairo. >> reporter: the game pits the contestant against a trivia pro, this man, mark labet, known as
the beast. >> i've appeared on over 500 episodes. >> reporter: the beast was used to schooling his opponents. on this occasion his world flipped upside down. >> double what you earned, $120,000. >> what was it like to face james on "the chase"? one word, humbling. because i heard a whisper there was somebody special coming on the show. professionally speaking, he gave me the worst whooping i've ever had. >> what everyone in the control room that day was dumbfounded. >> reporter: bodden was executive producer of "the chase" at the time. >> he was clearly the most successful and most memorable contestant in the history of the show. >> reporter: at o'brien's irish public in santa monica, california, holzhauer is both feared and revered. >> he's amazing. i can't believe anybody is as fast as he is. he's not afraid to gamble. >> reporter: "jeopardy!" isn't just another tv show playing above the bar. because wednesday night at o'brien's is trivia night.
>> that's four points each. >> reporter: the bar transforms into a sort of "jeopardy!" boot camp with teams of trivia buffs competing against each other for cash. >> 1964 in argosy -- >> there's talk about this guy james. i understand you were up close and personal with james -- >> don't remind me. >> how did it go? >> it went fine. i mean, playing against him is more about moral victories than actual victories. >> reporter: most of the players here have not only been on "jeopardy!" -- >> raise your hand if you've been on "jeopardy!" >> reporter: they also won it. >> and we all won. >> we've all won. >> right now we're sitting at this table with "jeopardy!" legends. >> reporter: among the regulars at o'brien es, brad runner, the man who's made the most money ever on "jeopardy!." the only time he lost was to the ibm super computer watson. >> you are one of, what, three people that have won over $1 million in "jeopardy!"? >> i think that's right, yes. i've won $4.6 million. >> reporter: like james, brad knows having all the answers isn't enough. >> my teammate from the all-star
tournament, david madden, the first guy i noticed started punting for the daily doubles. watson did that too and watson beat the crap out of ken and me. i thought that's a pretty good thing to start. >> follow the computer. so brad up against james. what's your strategy? how do you beat james? >> honestly, if i were going on the show right now, you know, for the first time, i'd play exactly the way he's playing. i would wear a tie, though. >> "jeopardy!" is a cultural icon. although people think of it as a super smart show, it's actually a veg accessible show for the average viewer because it's built in such a way there's always something on the show that you know. >> reporter: holzhauer seems to know a lot. his bets sometimes give viewers a glimpse into his personal life. the time he made sure the fine total added up to his daughter's birthday. >> 11/9/14 my daughter was born. i don't know if i'd call that
superstition so much as it's a fun thing i wanted to do up there. >> joining us now is melissa holzhauer! >> reporter: passion for trivia shared by his wife, melissa holzhauer, competed on "who wants to be a millionaire?" >> your husband in the house, james, what's up? >> reporter: it doesn't appear her husband's ready to walk away from "jeopardy!" any time soon. >> and that is the correct response. >> reporter: tonight's show marked his 16th straight win. >> a 16-day total of $1,225,987. >> reporter: now the question seems to be, who or what can stop this winning streak? >> i see weakness in his game. if it was me, i'd play the man, not the ball. nerd, trash talking him from the first moment i got on the set. i'd be constantly winding him up for any weakness, any mistake he made. i'd want to get him flustered. >> reporter: so far the steely holzhauer remains unflappable, ready for anything the show throws at him. >> it's really funny seeing all these media depictions of me as
an intellectual, because i'm a connoisseur of low culture. i'd love a category like, wwe catch phrases. or, name that guitar solo. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm maggie rulli in los angeles. up next, the remarkable young student showing the world her perfect penmanship. was ah. still, we never stopped making it stronger. faster. smarter. because to be the best, is to never ever stop making it better. there's never been a better time to become part of the mercedes-benz family. visit the mercedes-benz spring event before april 30th for exceptional lease and financing offers on the 2019 c 300. readyaveeno's sheer formulaiant? packed with pure soy evens tone and texture. so skin looks like this. and you feel like this.
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finally tonight, one special little girl winning a trophy for all the right stuff. sarah hensley, a third grader from maryland, is many things. she's a go-getter. a lover of arts. and a writing champion. >> i like to write by hand because i like to be challenged and overcome my challenges. >> the 10-year-old born without hands and winning a national handwriting competition for penning the perfect cursive. >> i just try my hardest and put my mind to it. and this is what happens. >> quite an accomplishment from a little rock star with a can-do attitude. a genuine inspiration to us all. be sure to tune into "the view" tomorrow as former vice president and newly announced