A Connecticut middle school student who misspelled his correct answer to a question on “Jeopardy!” last week claims he was “cheated” out of his winnings.
According to the Danbury News-Times, Newtown, Conn., eighth-grader Thomas Hurley III appeared on a special all-kids version of “Jeopardy!” on Wednesday. He was disqualified for misspelling his correct Final Jeopardy answer. In the game show’s final round, Thomas bet $3,000 of his $9,600 winnings on his answer to host Alex Trebek’s question about an 1863 document Abraham Lincoln called a “fit and necessary war measure.”
The correct answer? The Emancipation Proclamation. Hurley’s answer? “The Emanciptation Proclamation.” Despite answering correctly, the boy added an extra “t” to his answer and was disqualified.
“I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final `Jeopardy!’ question — it was just a spelling error,” Thomas, who attends Newtown Middle School, told the News-Times.
Despite his misspelling, Thomas still came in second place at the game show and walked away with a $2,000 prize. And no matter how he answered, he would not have won the grand prize. His opponent had earned $66,000 by the end of the episode. Still, Thomas says he wishes he had had a chance to compete fairly.
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"It's just upsetting to have lost that way. I don't know why it would have counted as the wrong answer,” he told the News-Times.
Thomas’s disqualification caused plenty of controversy online, but the producers of “Jeopardy!” continue to stand by their decision.
"If 'Jeopardy!' were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players," an unnamed producer said in an email to the Associated Press. "We love presenting young people as contestants on our show and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment."
Watch a video of Thomas Hurley on “Jeopardy!” below.