Ken Jennings Slammed for Accepting "Badly Wrong" Answer on "Jeopardy!"
Viewers said that multiple contestants had serious pronunciation issues.
During its regular season, new Jeopardy! episodes are broadcast five nights a week, with contestants vying for the win and then playing to keep their streak. With so many games, there are so many clues—and that leaves plenty of room for error. When mistakes are made—or even just questionable calls—Jeopardy! viewers don't let it slide. Host Ken Jennings is the latest to catch some flak from the fanbase for a ruling he made on Monday night's episode. Read on to find out more about the "badly wrong" answer Jennings accepted.
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Pronunciation was at the root of the issue.
During the Monday, March 27 Jeopardy! broadcast, returning champ Tamara Ghattas was facing off against Nicole Rudolph and Kevin Manning. All was smooth sailing until Manning selected the $1,600 clue from "The Bible" category during Double Jeopardy!
In a clip posted on YouTube, Jennings read the clue: "After the Last Supper, Jesus traveled to this garden to pray & was arrested there."
Manning buzzed in with the correct response, the Garden of Gethsemane—or at least close to it. Jennings ruled Manning incorrect due to his pronunciation of Gethsemane, as it sounded like he made more of a "d" sound in the last syllable instead of an "n."
Ghattas then buzzed in, stressing a soft "g" (which sounds like "j") at the start of Gethsemane, and the "nee" sound at the end.
"Yeah, we just needed the 'n,'" Jennings said, ruling Ghattas correct—but restating the answer with a soft "g."
Viewers felt the pronunciation was too off to be acceptable.
As always, Jeopardy! viewers took to Twitter to discuss the call.
"Unless I misunderstand #Jeopardy rules, the judges should not have accepted Tamara's 'Bible' answer of Jess-seh-muh-nee," Reverend Joseph Rose, Episcopal priest and former journalist, tweeted. "That's an entirely different word than Gethsemane, which is pronounced geth-seh-muh-nee."
One confused viewer tweeted, "Uhhhh @Jeopardy—Who decided on the correct pronunciation of 'Gethsemane'?? I need to hear that again."
Another agreed that the Garden of Gethsemane was the correct response, but that Ghattas' pronunciation was "like badly wrong."
Some pointed the finger at Jennings. "Ken, the host of Jeopardy does not know how to pronounce, Gethsemane," a user tweeted.
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There was some discussion about pronunciation rules.
Replying to Rose's tweet, another Twitter user alleged that the "rules on pronunciation have certainly been only selectively applied" on the show "in a conspicuously regular arbitrary nature."
On Reddit, viewers continued to share their thoughts on Jeopardy!'s pronunciation rules. "The Bible for $1600—seems both Kevin and Tamara mispronounced Gethsemane, yet her answer was ruled a correct answer!" a Redditor wrote.
In response, another viewer provided a potential explanation for why Ghattas was ruled correct. "Mispronunciations are OK as long as they could be a way to pronounce the word based on its spelling," the Redditor claimed. "So soft G vs. hard G isn't an issue, but missing an N is."
There's some gray area about pronunciation, but Jeopardy! has provided some clarity about written responses, noting that Final Jeopardy! responses "do not have to be spelled correctly, but they must be phonetically correct and not add or subtract any extraneous sounds or syllables."
It may have affected the game's outcome.
While Rose said the question "didn't matter in the end," other fans had different opinions.
"@Jeopardy I thought the contestant who answered the 'Garden of Gethsemane' was robbed of his points tonight?" a tweet reads, referring to Manning. "What did he say wrong? The contestant who got points for that question, didn't even pronounce it right."
Viewers said that the ruling dashed Manning's hope of winning: At the end of the round, Manning had $7,000, Ghattas had $7,800, and Rudolph had $16,800. Rudolph's score was more than double Manning's and Ghattas', making her impossible to catch.
But with an extra $3,200 (the $1,600 he would've gained and the $1,600 he lost by answering incorrectly), Manning may have come out on top, as he was the only contestant to answer the Final Jeopardy! clue correctly
"It's a shame that Kevin's mispronunciation of 'Gethsemane' cost him $3,200, which would've enabled him to pass Nicole on FJ [Final Jeopardy!]," a Redditor wrote.
Another fan agreed, writing, "Yeah [the first Daily Double] or the Gethsemane clue would have been enough for Kevin to prevent the runaway and win in FJ. Ouch."