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12-Year-Old ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Misspells Word, Family Upset By How Son Was Treated [Video]


Last week, a 12-year-old “Jeopardy!” contestant misspelled Emancipation Proclamation during “Final Jeopardy!”.

Thomas Hurley III added a “T” spelling it “Emanciptation Proclamation”.

Host Alex Trebek said Hurley “misspelled it badly”. The boy’s family is upset saying Trebek “humiliated” the boy.

Was the show right to reject the misspelling?  Is the family overreacting?

Trebek’s choice to say the word was misspelled “badly” is what’s causing part of the problem.  Had he simply said it was misspelled not “badly” misspelled it would not only have been more accurate, but it may have softened the blow to the Hurley family. has more:

Trebek said he “misspelled it badly” and said the judges ruled his response incorrect. The boy hung his head, and seemed to mouth the word “what?” Then, the host noted that winner Skyler Hornback’s response was spelled correctly. The decision did not affect the game’s outcome; Hornback had an insurmountable lead.

Still, Hurley is upset that he lost $3,000 over an extra letter. “I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final ‘Jeopardy!’ question. It was just a spelling error,” he told the Danbury News-Times.

His father is angrier, saying Trebek “basically humiliated” his son on television.

“Jeopardy!” officials have said they have to enforce spelling or it would penalize other contestants.

If show officials say that words must be spelled and pronounced exactly right to be considered correct, then “Jeopardy!” needs to be consistent for all contestants.  However, it might not be a bad idea to change the strict policy for future “Kids Jeopardy!” shows.

Do you think the show’s strict policy is appropriate?  Is the family right to complain?

Follow Matt Milhouse on Facebook and Twitter.  Listen weekdays, 10:00am – 3:00pm.


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