Long gone are the days when Jeopardy! contestants could make random guesses to their hearts’ content without worrying about being lambasted by viewers on social media. Still, that looming threat doesn’t tend to stop contestants from blurting out whatever first pops into their super-smart brains, which brings about shameful guesses such as someone thinking Michael Caine was Mick Jagger. Or, in the case of current champ Halley Ryherd, mistaking one of hip-hop’s most seminal acts, Public Enemy, with the short-time rap group led by soon-to-be Hollywood A-lister Mark Wahlberg. Even Chuck D himself weighed in, and was far nicer about it than most Twitter users.
Here’s how things went down. On the Jeopardy! episode that aired on Wednesday, June 29, the Jeopardy round contained the category Chuck D, Times 3. The first two clues revolved around Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Charles Darwin’s ship, the Beagle, but it was the third one that drew a collective chuckle from the Internet. The clue:
- In the 1980s Chuck D began fighting the power in this hip-hop group with Flavor Flav, a man who always knew what time it was
Considering Halley was the first to buzz in, you might have thought she was all over that answer. However, her actual guess — “What is the Funky Bunch?” — was so ludicrous that it felt silly in hindsight to ever believe that she could have gotten it right. After all, it’s safe to believe that a decent percentage of the Jeopardy!-viewing population wasn’t even aware of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s existence, outside of that time they scrolled through Mark Wahlberg’s Wikipedia page.
Given that group’s exceedingly minor impact on hip-hop culture as a whole, especially in comparison to Chuck D and Public Enemy, Halley Ryherd took some lumps on social media from viewers whose brains were completely fried by the contestant’s lapse in judgment. It was actually below one such comment, one which gave Ryherd credit being so off-base, where Chuck D weighed in on the matter on Twitter, saying:
That might possibly be the most level-headed, grounded and self-effacing Twitter post in existence. Rather than poking fun at Halley Ryherd, the hip-hop legend made it clear he’s not out here acting like everybody on Jeopardy! is responsible for knowing all the facts in existence. And even though Chuck D is no doubt aware of the many fans idolizing him and his art, he doesn’t assume it of anyone. Plus, he even generally advocated for being intelligent and mindful of literature, science, and more. Can we get Chuck D a spot hosting Jeopardy! for an episode or two before they pick the final one?
Thankfully, Halley Ryherd came out as the champion in the end, despite none of the three contestants landing Final Jeopardy successfully. (And for a clue that referred to Sesame Street, of all things.) And she had a great attitude about the highly public (enemy) error, saying this with a post-episode tweet:
Now Halley Ryherd just needs to make it through the rest of her life without saying anything like, "You know, that actor Rakim from the movies Ted and The Departed."
No telling if Ryherd will enter the list of most successful Jeopardy! champions in history after this fun-filled first win, but they all had to start somewhere. Be sure to watch how she does next when the iconic game show airs daily in syndication; check your local listings to see when and where it’s playing in your area. And head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are hitting primetime and beyond.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.