Et tu, Ken???

You may remember several months ago when I was irate that a really good player on Jeopardy! lost because he misspelled the Final Jeopardy answer by one letter?

A refresher:

I don’t remember the numbers in play, but the game was not a runaway; Ben actually needed to be right on Final Jeopardy to win…or at least not wager so much that he’d lose on a wrong answer. The Final Jeopardy clue was this (paraphrased), in the category “Shakespeare Characters”:

“The names of these two lovers are taken from Latin words meaning ‘blessed’.”

Now, first off: I came up with the right answer, because isn’t that the most important thing about Jeopardy, anyway? For you, as a viewer, to feel as smart as, if not smarter, than the people on the teevee who know all this weird random stuff? Why yes! But still: the two challengers both answered “Romeo and Juliet”, and both of those answers were wrong, so both of them lost money. Again, the numbers aren’t important, but at least one of them still had some money left after their wager.

Ben, however, got the right characters: Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. But wait! He spelled them Beatrice and Benedict, which was enough for the judges to rule him incorrect. His wager was big enough to drop him into second place, and off the show (until he comes back for the Tournament of Champions, so all isn’t lost for Ben).

Well, tonight it happened again! Only this time, they let the misspelling stand. I don’t recall the Final Jeopardy clue, but the answer as “Antony and Cleopatra”. One of the contestants spelled it Anthony and Cleopatra, though. There’s no ‘H’ there: He’s Mark Antony, not Mark Anthony. Ken Jennings actually said something like, “There’s no H in there, but we’ll give it to you anyway.”


Why did spelling count for Ben back in May but not for some other guy tonight? Now, the answer didn’t end up mattering this time: he still came in second, so the game would not have been decided had his answer been correct or incorrect, but back then I was told that the rules are the rules! Spelling counts in Final Jeopardy! One imagines Mr. Goodman from The Big Lebowski:


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3 Responses to Et tu, Ken???

  1. Roger says:

    Ultimately, there are judges who can override Ken. In the other example, that decision I agreed with (it’s a different consonant sound).

    I agree with you here. It’s Antony Blinken, not Anthony. Annie Leibovitz, not Leibowitz (although the spelling of say, ie vs. ei, would NOT be counted as wrong. It’s a sound issue, not a spelling issue.) Al Greene wouldn’t be wrong, even though it’s Al Green.

  2. Roger says:

    Now that I’ve seen the episode, I see the decision altered the course of the game. Raquel had $11,600, bet nothing (but got it correct). Xanni had $17,400 and bet $6000. If Anthony had been judged as incorrect, they would have had $11,400 and Raquel would have won.

  3. ksedinger says:

    Did it alter the game? OK, I had that wrong…but still, if they’re going to have a “Spelling counts” rule, then spelling needs to count. Otherwise, you have situations like this…and the fact that the consonant sound is different in the earlier example doesn’t even help here, because that contestant probably pronounces the ‘TH’ in his erroneous “Mark Anthony” as one normally pronounces ‘TH’.

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