One Fans Opinion: He Lost On Jeopardy!...Fairly
Originally posted: August 10th, 2013

By Jim Williams

In what has been an otherwise calm and tranquil summer on the game show front, one moment from a recent "Jeopardy!" Kids Week episode has grabbed national headlines. To refresh your memory, here's what happened:

And let's see how contestant Thomas Hurley III handled himself as the credits rolled:

In the days after the episode aired, major media outlets were all over this presumed carriage of injustice. Everyone from to NBC's "Today" served up the very video you just saw with varying opinions. Local newscasts across the country showcased this "Final Jeopardy!" moment inviting viewers to offer up their feedback. And now, I'm going to offer my 2 cents.

To those of you who think that Thomas Hurley III, the contestant at the center of it all, was screwed or cheated in any way, shape or form because he misspelled his question in "Final Jeopardy!", you're completely in the wrong. I'm fortunate enough to be friends with contestants who have appeared on "Jeopardy!", and they've all pretty much stated that the judges' ruling was in the right. The spelling error in question changed the pronunciation of Thomas' response, hence his response is incorrect. He wasn't the first to be ruled incorrect due to a misspelling, and he won't be the last either.

The only mistake in the whole series of events was how Alex Trebek explained the ruling. He misspoke in his explanation saying that Thomas added an extra "p" when he added an extra "t". If you want to play devil's advocate and say, Trebek's misexplanation warrants some sort of make good in Hurley's favor, be my guest, but it's not necessary and the show's staff isn't entitled to do so.

What grinds my gears more than anything else about the matter is the way Hurley himself handled the matter.

In the second video, you saw how Thomas did all he could to keep from bawling like a baby on stage during the credit roll. Admittedly, I am a sensitive individual and let my emotions get the best of me on more than a few occasions in my formative years. But, I learned there was a time and a place to let those emotions out. Sulking and folding your arms on national television isn't that time or place. It does you no favors and, if anything, makes you look like a fool.

But wait, there's more! Shortly after the episode aired, Hurley told The News-Times of Danbury, "I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final 'Jeopardy!' question." Read that quote to yourself a few times and try your best not to smack your palm to your face. Hurley was cheated out of absolutely nothing in his half hour on "Jeopardy!". Matter of fact, if anything, he has cheated out the other contestants of their time in the spotlight.

As anyone who has ever been on a game show will tell you, before you agree to appear on a show you are given forms to sign, and are provided knowledge of the rules of the game. Should any questions arise, the production staff will answer your queries. Apparently, Hurley didn't pay attention at that point in the contestant selection process.

Also to say he was "cheated" out of his response is completely and utterly ridiculous on the following grounds: Given what the first place contestant did in "Final", THOMAS WOULD HAVE FINISHED IN SECOND PLACE NO MATTER WHAT! He could have pulled a "Sean Connery" from "Saturday Night Live" and wrote "Buck Futter" or he could have spelled "Emancipation Proclamation" correctly; either way it would not have changed the fact that he was going to finish in second place and go home with $2,000.

I think the ultimate summation on the matter comes from Facebook friend, author and game show oracle Adam Nedeff.

Spot on, Adam.

Here's a eighth grader from Connecticut...who has done something that I'll never do and something that most Americans will never do...he goes on "Jeopardy!"...and in the end he comes off acting like nothing short of a spoiled sport, and perhaps I'm being kind in saying that. Being on a game show is a privilege, not an entitlement, and the way Thomas Hurley III portrayed himself during and after his appearance gives me the impression that he thought it was the other way around.

Hopefully, he'll look back on this whole experience down the road and see that he wasn't cheated. Hey, maybe he'll look back on this all years from now and laugh at how silly he has acted. One can hope for that anyway, at least.

P.S. Since I lifted from Adam Nedeff's Facebook page (with his permission), I am obliged to tell you that Adam is the author of "Quizmaster: The Life and Times and Fun and Games of Bill Cullen" which you can purchase in paperback or Kindle form at

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