Jeopardy: Emancipation Misspelling Costs Student $3,000

Thomas Hurley III, an eighth grade student from Newtown Middle School, Connecticut, lost $3,000 when he appeared on the TV quiz show Jeopardy. Emancipation was the word that caused his loss.

He was answering the Final Jeopardy question about the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. His answer was correct; unfortunately, when he wrote it out, he misspelled the word as emanciptation. The show’s host, Alex Trebek refused to accept it, making this the most expensive T in history; Hurley feels that he was cheated.

He told The News-Times of Danbury,”I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final ‘Jeopardy!’ question….It was just a spelling error.” He had bet $3,000 of his $9,600 in winnings so he finished well behind the winner who received $66,600.

His consolation prize was $2,000, which he got for being the runner-up.

The producers of Jeopardy defended Trebek’s decision. In an e-mail response they said: “If ‘Jeopardy!’ were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players…..we love presenting young people as contestants on our show and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment.”

Suzanne Hurley said her son was “a little stunned” by the loss. She said, “He felt embarrassed….It was hard to watch.”

The game show’s Facebook page was inundated with hundreds of people expressing their anger at the program and its host.”Bad form, Jeopardy,” said one comment. “Every game show has bad calls… this takes the cake.”

For Jeopardy, emancipation is a word that will give the producers PR nightmares for some time to come.

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