'Kids Jeopardy!' Contestant Says He Was 'Cheated' Out of Winnings
The eighth-grader complains that Alex Trebek told him his answer was wrong because of a misspelled word.
NEWTOWN, Conn. — A Connecticut eighth-grader who misspelled the correct answer to a Jeopardy! question and lost money over it says he was cheated.
Thomas Hurley III correctly answered the "Final Jeopardy" question about the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. But Thomas spelled it "emanciptation" and was ruled out by host Alex Trebek.
He bet $3,000 of his $9,600 in winnings and finished well behind a rival, who amassed $66,600.
"I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final Jeopardy! question," he told The News-Times of Danbury. "It was just a spelling error."
The Newtown Middle School student won $2,000 as the runner-up.
In an email, producers of Jeopardy! defended Trebek's decision.
"If Jeopardy! were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players," they said. "We love presenting young people as contestants on our show and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment."
Hurley's mother, Suzanne, said her son was "a little stunned" by the loss.
"He felt embarrassed," she said. "It was hard to watch."
Hundreds vented their anger at Jeopardy! and Trebek on the game show's Facebook page.
"Bad form, Jeopardy," said one comment. "Every game show has bad calls ... this takes the cake."
The Kids Jeopardy! program was filmed in February and broadcast last week.