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A Connecticut boy is calling foul on Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek, claiming that he was cheated out of winnings just because he misspelled ‘emancipation’ during the Final Jeopardy round.
The Danbury, Conn. News-Times reports that Thomas Hurley III, 12, was on Jeopardy! during Kids Week, which was filmed in February and finally aired last week. Hurley won $9,600 during the game, but his rival, Skylar Hornbeck, was up to $36,600, so he had a huge hill to climb in Final Jeopardy.
Hurley wrote the correct question to the answer, which referred to a document Abraham Lincoln signed in 1863 that was a “fit and necessary war measure.” The correct response would be “What is the Emancipation Proclamation.” Hurley bet $3,000, but lost because he put in an extra ‘t’ in ‘emancipation.’
While he wouldn’t have won the game anyway, since Hornbeck also got the correct response, many are wondering about Trebek’s response. Trebek at first said he got it right, but since it was so “badly misspelled,” Hurley wouldn’t be credited with the correct response. Hurley lowered his head and could not face the camera as Trebek praised Hornbeck.
“It's generated a little bit of controversy,” his mother, Suzanne, told the News-Times. “He was a little stunned by it. He felt embarrassed. It was hard to watch.”
“I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final Jeopardy! question. It was just a spelling error,” Hurley said.
According to the AP, Jeopardy! producers have issued a response, defending Trebek. “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,” the statement read.
Watch the scene below. Was Trebek being too harsh?