Turn this into a real daily disaster, Alex. Danger! participants often train for years before appearing on the quiz, but sometimes they still find themselves in the middle of a crazy moment.
Even Ken Jennings, who has the longest winning streak in Jeopardy! history, failed one or two answers. During its initial launch in 2004, one of his most memorable mistakes occurred when he was answering a question in the “Instrumental Time” category.
“This term for a long—handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker,” read the late presenter Alex Trebek. Jennings, who had a commanding lead at the time, called back with the response, “What’s a hoe?” When the audience started laughing, Trebek joked: “Whoa, whoa, whoa! They teach you that at school in Utah, right? (Chase’s co-host graduated from Brigham Young State University.)
The author of Planet Funny later found himself at the center of Jeopardy! controversy when some of his old tweets surfaced shortly before he began his first stint as a guest host of the show after Trebek’s death in November 2020. “There’s nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair,” read one tweet Jennings posted in 2014.
The former software engineer apologized for the posts, saying they “worked like jokes” in his mind, but didn’t read as well on the screen. “Sometimes I stupidly said stupid things and I want to apologize to people who (rightfully!) were insulted,” he tweeted in December 2020. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, but it doesn’t matter; I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry.”
Danger! He continued Jennings’ performance as a guest host, but the Wall Street Journal later reported that the tweets could have cost him his job as a permanent replacement for Trebek. In August 2021, Sony Pictures announced that executive producer Mike Richards would become the permanent host of the syndicated game show, but Richards resigned a few days later after many disagreements of his own.
After Richards’ departure, Mayim Bialik, who was announced as the host of prime time and additional issues, began acting as the temporary host of the show. Since then, the “Big Bang Theory” graduate has alternately worked with Jennings, who is still a consulting producer on the series. As of April 2022, Sony has not yet announced a permanent host of the syndicated program.
Keep scrolling to look back at some of the wildest and most controversial moments in Jeopardy! history.
“What is a hoe?”
After Jennings’ failure, another participant called with the correct answer: “What is a rake?”
Age of consent
In 2015, participant Tom Imler went viral after calling with an incorrect answer to this question: “By common law, this age indicating adulthood is considered equal to 14 years for boys and 12 years for girls.” After Imler guessed the “age of consent”, social media users quickly dubbed his answer one of the most disgusting Jeopardy! moments of all time. (The correct answer was “puberty.”)
Imler later said he was “a little embarrassed” by the gaffe, but he wasn’t happy that some viewers found him “creepy” because of the mistake. “It made me angry,” he told the New York Daily News at the time. “This is not true by 127,000 percent. But when it started to gain momentum, I started to worry that people might think it was true. I started thinking, “Holy cow. the door?'”
A $1 win
In October 2017, returning champion Manny Ebell became one of the rare participants who won the game for just $1. He entered Final Jeopardy in third place and answered the question incorrectly, as did his opponents — and both made bad bets, which led to his victory.
The main typo
Danger to children! participant Thomas Hurley III claimed that he was “deceived” in 2013 after the judges did not consider his incorrect spelling of the “Emancipation Proclamation” to be the correct answer. “It’s just a shame that we lost like that,” he told the News—Times after the show aired. “I do not know why this was considered the wrong answer.” (The other contestant spelled it correctly and bet more money, so even if the judges had accepted Hurley’s answer, he still wouldn’t have won.)
Replacing the Trebek
Richards stepped down from his post as Trebek’s permanent replacement after it became known that he faced allegations of discrimination while working as an executive producer on The Price Is Right. “It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! because we hope to start a new chapter,” he wrote in a memo to Sony employees in August 2021. “As I mentioned last week, it was a great honor for me to be invited to host a syndicated show, and I was excited about the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the past few days it has become clear that moving forward as a host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and the wrong move for the show. As such, I am resigning as host immediately. As a result, we are canceling production today.”