Jeopardy! Fans Again Ticked at Ken Jennings' Decision

They say co-host accepted 'illegible' answer, allowing reigning champ to win again
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2022 12:14 PM CDT
Updated Sep 24, 2022 6:30 AM CDT

Days after being accused of sexism, Jeopardy! co-host Ken Jennings has run afoul of fans again. On Monday's episode, at the start of Jennings' second week in the official co-host role, he accepted a written answer to a Final Jeopardy! clue that onlookers described as illegible. The clue was, "The governor of Massachusetts wrote, it 'is a poor document, but a mighty act ... wrong in its delay till January, but grand & sublime after all.'" The correct answer was the Emancipation Proclamation. But though returning champ Emmett Stanton got "Emancipation," he struggled with the second word—one attempt was scratched out—and what he ultimately presented was difficult to read. (See video.)

Still, Jennings accepted it. As Stanton had bet all of his $8,000 and was the only one of the three contestants to get the right answer, he won what had been a very close game. Had his answer not been accepted, he would have lost to fellow contestant Suzanne Goss. Though she'd guessed incorrectly, she'd bet only $6,000 of her $8,400, per Fox News. "I'm not sure how the judges accepted the writing on Final Jeopardy today. The first half worked, but the second... whew," one Reddit user wrote, per TV Insider. "There's no possible way to translate that last half into Proclamation, regardless of observed intent," wrote another. A third user described the answer as "very illegible to my eyes."

Stanton himself commented on the forum: "Conveniently the good folks at Jeopardy! have a podcast that has, at various times, gotten into the specifics of how handwriting is adjudicated by the independent legal team that looks at everything borderline on the show," he wrote, providing a link to here. According to the Jeopardy! website, "written responses to the Final Jeopardy! clue do not have to be spelled correctly, but they must be phonetically correct and not add or subtract any extraneous sounds or syllables." That explains why Alex Trebek told a 12-year-old contestant that judges couldn't accept his correct answer to a Final Jeopardy! clue in 2013 because he'd spelled it "Emanciptation Proclamation," per Outsider. (Read more Jeopardy stories.)

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