A 12-year-old boy named Thomas Hurley III got the classic Alex Trebek brush-off after misspelling a word during the final Jeopardy round of an episode of the kid’s tournament this week. The poor kid technically answered the question correctly with Emancipation Proclamation; however, his spelling was off, and Trebek and Jeopardy!’s behind-the-scenes judges deemed the answer to be incorrect. The eighth grader’s spelling was “Emanciptation Proclamation.”
Hurley was devastated about the mistake and you can see it in a clip from the episode, where the kid hangs his head after being modestly chastised by Trebek.
The Internet was divided after the Jeopardy! flub aired live last Wednesday, with some viewers claiming that the show’s judging panel was being pretty harsh. Oppositely, others commented about how spelling counts in the real world and that it should have been a learning moment for the little boy. There's no doubt that the moment may go down as one of the show's great flubs, but how does Hurley III feel?
According to his father, Thomas Hurley II, who sat down with CNN to talk about the Jeopardy! controversy, his son is “barely holding it together” after the event. Additionally, Hurley seems to be a little pissed about the way the show handled the spelling error.
"The thing that bothered me most was the way Alex Trebek and the producers treated my son. They were kind of smug. It's a kids' tournament! Everyone knew what he meant."
If there’s anything that anyone should know about Jeopardy!, it’s that Trebek has a smug personality. He occasionally belittles contestants and likes to pretend that he knows more about subjects than people appearing on the show by adding additional facts between questions. That's been his personality for years and years. Knowing the way Trebek has handled situations similar to these in the past, he probably wasn’t out to intentionally upset the kid, even though the kid is clearly upset. At some point, Hurley III will have to learn that people, no matter what age, are prone to behaving with abruptness, and learning that lesson on TV is just as good as any place else.
I could see why the kid would be frustrated if his spelling error had lost him the win during his episode. However, his butt was soundly whupped by a competitor named Skyler Hornback, who not only correctly spelled Emancipation Proclamation, but who also brought in an all-time record for a kids win with $66,000. It’s not like Hurley ended up with less money for his spelling flub, he still took home $2,000 which would have been his prize money whether or not he had spelled the final answer correctly. Two grand is not bad for a day’s work for a 12-year-old.