Ken Jennings Slammed for Accepting Wrong "Jeopardy!" Answer (And Rejecting Right One)

Heated debate surrounded two clues from one tricky category.

Jeopardy! fans enjoy testing their knowledge and playing along while the contestants vie for the champion title. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with the pace, but there's often a bit of a pause while the Jeopardy! judges decide on whether a response is correct. This happened during last Thursday's episode, and it culminated in host Ken Jennings accepting an answer that fans say was wrong. The situation was further complicated when Jennings soon after rejected a "correct" response to a clue from the same category. Read on to find out more about the latest Jeopardy! controversy.

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One category caused trouble.

jesse matheny on jeopardy
ABC

During the Thursday, April 28, Jeopardy! broadcast, contestants faced the "A_B_C_D" category, where all correct responses had words or phrases with those four letters in that order.

According to the New York Post, the first flub occurred when Jennings read the category's $800 clue: "It's a longer way of saying vitamin C." Jesse Matheny, the returning champ, buzzed in and responded with, "What is asorbic acid?"

Jennings accepted the answer after a brief pause, saying, "Yeah, we'll take that; I think the 'c' is pronounced."

But viewers were quick to point out that the answer itself wasn't correct, as Matheny was missing the first "c" in "ascorbic."

Some fans said Matheny shouldn't have been awarded points.

april 27, 2023 episode of jeopardy
ABC

On Twitter, there was some debate over whether or not Matheny should've been ruled correct.

"I didn't hear the 'c' from Jesse's response of ascorbic acid," an April 27 tweet reads. "I heard 'asorbic' acid."

Another wrote, "It wasn't the correct response. It should have been called wrong."

However, @JeopardyWageringStrategy, responded to this tweet, saying that Jennings was correct in his ruling.

"That is an acceptable pronunciation if you only know how the word is spelled, not pronounced," the tweet reads. "Contestants have always been able to mispronounce words as long as their response could possibly be spelled like the correct one."

On Reddit, viewers said that the judges were likely being generous, but with good reason.

"Given English's weird inconsistencies about when the c in sc- is or isn't pronounced, [they] erred on the side of correct," a fan argued.

Best Life reached out to Jeopardy! for comment on the ruling, but has not yet heard back.

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Some had questions about the alphabetical order.

ken jennings hosting jeopardy
ABC

But fans said that this wasn't the only issue with the clue: Some argued it also didn't reflect with the parameters of the category. When spelled correctly, ascorbic acid has the four letters ordered as "A_C_B_C_D."

On Reddit, other viewers maintained that this was a non-issue.

"Here, though, the presence of the 'c' sound doesn't have any actual bearing on whether or not 'ascorbic acid' fits the category," one Redditor wrote, per The U.S. Sun.

Another added, "You're right—I just realized that the first c in 'ascorbic' has no bearing on the a-b-c-d thing, because it's either of the two c's after the b (and before the d) that is what's really required."

This wasn't the only flub.

eric anderson on jeopardy
ABC

In the same category, another response was up for debate. The $1,000 clue read, "If you 'go' this 7-word phrase, you've exceeded what your obligations require."

Eric Anderson, who ended up clinching the win when all was said and done, buzzed in and said, "What is above the call of duty?"

Including the "what is," the phrase is seven words, the New York Post reported, but Anderson was ruled incorrect. The response judges were looking for was "above and beyond the call of duty," but fans again had questions.

"#Jeopardy why doesn't 'above the call of duty' work? It's ABCD," a fan wrote, with another echoing that this was their "thoughts exactly."

In response, another viewer argued that the judges don't include the "what is" in the seven words.

"Because the clue required the correct answer to be a '7-word phrase,'" the tweet reads. "'Above the call of duty' is only five words."

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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