"Jeopardy!" Producer Finally Explains Apparent "Wrong" Answer Mistake
Sarah Foss said that winner Melissa Klapper had the correct response after all.
If you've ever seen an episode of Jeopardy!, you know how quickly it moves. Contestants sometimes can't get the words out fast enough when responding to a clue, and the host is responsible for telling them they're right or wrong without missing a beat. Surprisingly, it's typically a smooth process, and the game's pace makes it that much more exciting. But last week, one contestant gave what many viewers said was a "clearly wrong" response—and was awarded points anyway, going on to win the game. Social media was overflowing with outcries about the apparent mistake, and now, Jeopardy! producer Sarah Foss has chimed in to explain the ruling. Read on to find out how she's responding to outraged fans.
Viewers said Melissa Klapper was "awarded points in error."
During the March 20 Jeopardy! broadcast, fans were up in arms when contestant Melissa Klapper responded to a clue in the "Quite the Fish Story" category. The clue asked about a Scottish actor who played "a fisheries expert in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." Klapper buzzed in, gave the seemingly correct response (Ewan McGregor), and was awarded points by host Ken Jennings.
But viewers alleged Klapper forgot the "Mc" portion of the actor's last name and said "Ewan Gregor" instead. One frustrated fan stated that her answer was "clearly wrong" and "needs to be corrected."
Others said that they replayed the clip multiple times to confirm she misstated the name, alleging that it changed the course of the game, as Klapper went on to clinch the victory.
"@Jeopardy Melissa missed the question where the answer was Ewan McGregor! She said Ewan Gregor…we replayed it several times," a viewer tweeted. "She was awarded the points in error…and now she won. Unfair to the other players."
Production said there was no mistake to correct.
Foss addressed the situation on a Monday, March 27 episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast, where she stood by the ruling.
"In the Jeopardy round, we did have a clue—it was actually the final clue in the round—'Quite the Fish Story,' [was] the category," Foss explained. She then read the full clue: "The force of Lasse Hallström was strong to pull in this Scot to play a fisheries expert in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."
Foss maintained that Klapper buzzed in and responded with "McGregor."
"Many people thought she just said 'Gregor," Foss continued. "I have to once again tell you guys, we stopped, we listened to the tape—I know it wasn't as audible for you at home—but [her lips were] definitely moving, she made a 'McGregor' sound, and we knew that she did, in fact, have the correct response."
While Foss effectively put an end to the discussion, she also thanked fans for holding production accountable.
"Appreciate everyone just checking in, making sure we're paying attention—we were, and she was indeed marked correct," Foss concluded.
Viewers were also hard on Klapper for her wagering technique.
Foss and her co-host, former Jeopardy! champ Buzzy Cohen, discussed Klapper's overall gameplay, particularly her final Daily Double wager—another sore spot for fans.
Klapper had a "strong lead," Cohen noted, but when she found the second Daily Double (which was the last clue of Double Jeopardy!), she wagered $3,000 and answered correctly. However, she could've secured a runaway "lock game"—meaning she couldn't be caught in Final Jeopardy!—if she had wagered just a bit more ($3,401).
"Why in the world did Melissa not wager another $500 on that last DD??" a Twitter user demanded. "It wouldn't have made much of a difference if she missed it but would make a lot of difference if she got it. Maybe just a brain fart due to pressure?"
Foss and Cohen said calculating wagers on TV is stressful.
Klapper realized her error right after the score update, Cohen said, coming to the first-time player's defense.
"You know, I think when you're up there and you're making a quick decision—a lot of the times, people are making those Daily Double wagers on guts," he said during the latest Inside Jeopardy! podcast.
Cohen added that contestants will consider how confident they feel in the category and whether they'll lose the lead if they wager too much and are incorrect. He also said that doing math on television is stressful, which is why some players rely on ranges instead.
Foss echoed this and said, "[Klapper] realized she made 'a foolish math error,' as she called it—and Ken said, 'Hey, it's a lot of pressure in that moment.'"
"You're trying to do the right thing, and you're trying to get double that number, but that's quick math—and that's not just quick math at home on your couch, that's quick math on the Alex Trebek Stage with the lights, with the cameras, knowing that millions of people are going to watch you," Foss added.
In the end, the wager had little impact, as Klapper answered the Final Jeopardy! clue correctly and secured the win.
"I understand that $3,401 would've been a more optimal bet there, but I certainly feel for Melissa, I don't think she should get down on herself," Cohen concluded.