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A life lesson from Jeopardy!


In Final JeopardyThomas Hurley's answer was declared wrong because he put an extra "t" in "emancipation."

Thomas Hurley’s answer was declared wrong in Final Jeopardy because he put an extra “t” in “emancipation.”

Thomas Hurley no doubt learned a lot during his stint as a contestant on the TV game show, Jeopardy!

The 12-year old boy from Newtown, CT appeared during Kids Week and ignited controversy in Final Jeopardy for misspelling the word “Emancipation” in the otherwise correct answer, Emancipation Proclamation.

Host Alex Trebek initially called the answer correct, but then disqualified it saying Thomas had “badly misspelled” it. So Thomas lost the $3,000 that he bet. Even if he had gotten the answer right he would have lost anyway as fellow contestant Skyler Hornback had a commanding lead and handily won.

Thomas learned something most of us learn the hard way, mistakes have consequences. It’s a bad blow, and unfortunate. We all knew what he meant. He had the right answer in mind.

Jeopardy! does allow for some mistakes. Alex has accepted misspelled Final Jeopardy answers if a word was spelled phonetically, which in this case it wasn’t. In this case, the final answer also happened to be a title, which I suspect required the need for accuracy.

After the episode aired, Thomas was quoted in a local newspaper saying he felt he was “cheated.” People rushed to his defense criticizing Alex and the show.

But while it was unfortunate to be ruled out for a spelling mistake, I hope Thomas will put his anger behind him, move forward, and understand he was not “cheated.”

It’s a game. Jeopardy! has its rules and needs to enforce them.

Thomas, technically you were wrong. You caught a bad break though and the public, myself included, has a lot of sympathy for you.

Jeopardy!’s a tough gig. But if you’re a smart kid, which you have proven to be on the show, please learn from this experience. Things won’t always go your way in life. Sometimes a little mistake can have as many consequences as a big one.

This too shall pass.

Time to put this behind you. That way you can truly be e-m-a-n-c-i-p-a-t-e-d.

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2 thoughts on “A life lesson from Jeopardy!

  1. Kelly on said:

    Jeopardy is the game for people who value knowledge. As long as the rules are the same for everyone, it’s fair. Let’s not “lower the bar” for mistakes.

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