When it comes to Jeopardy, you might think the biggest controversy that can happen during gameplay would be a contestant not answering in the form of a question, but that's not at all the case. In fact, the iconic game show faced some epic backlash last week and has even been accused of sexism. Now, producers are addressing exactly what went down.
It happened on Wednesday's show, when contestant Luigi de Guzman responded to a clue in the category "Cons." A painting was shown as host Ken Jennings read, "Here's a typical 19th-century landscape by this British painter." Luigi answered, "Who is Constant?" to which Ken replied, "Say it again," and Luigi then stated, "Sorry, who is Constable?" He was ruled correct. Later in the episode, a contestant named Harriet Wagner answered a clue about a late sci-fi author by saying, "Who is Angelia LeGuin, sorry, Urusula LeGuin," but Ken interrupted her and ruled her answer as incorrect. Luigi then buzzed in and got it right. Ken explained, "Harriet, you remembered that her name was Ursula but I had already begun ruling against you when you began correcting yourself." Because Luigi won by a slim margin of $700 over Harriet, and by just $100 over the second place finisher, those rulings affected the outcome of the game.
Twitter was outraged, with tweets saying things like, "Wow, is Jeopardy fixed? Why is Luigi allowed to correct himself but Harriet isn't?" and "Gosh, Jeopardy — why not have a certain amount of time to answer? Harriet answered her revised answer of Ursula at least as quickly as Luigi was allowed to correct his response from Constant to Constable a few minutes earlier." Others claimed that Ken and the show have a "gender bias."
Executive Producer Mike Davies and producer Sarah Foss discussed what happened on the latest episode of their podcast, Inside Jeopardy. Sarah began by stating:
"Luigi did initially respond in the Jeopardy! round, 'Who is Constant' to one of the clues. But Ken did not hear him, so Ken asked Luigi, 'Can you repeat that?' When Luigi repeated it he did change his answer to 'Constable.' And we made the ruling that he was correct. It is in the rules that until the host rules you incorrect you can change your response. Just by Ken saying 'an you repeat that,' he generally didn't hear him so it was up to Luigi whether he wanted to keep the same response or change it. But that's why you'll see that moment in the game play out and that's why it happened."
As for Harriet's response, Sarah added, "It certainly was a hard moment for us. Harriet responded 'Angela LeGuin,' Ken ruled her incorrect and she corrected herself after. This is one of those things we had to go back and check the timing." Davies revealed they actually "went frame by frame" to find out who said what first, and Ken's ruling happened 10 frames before Harriet corrected herself.
Sarah made sure to note, "We want everyone to know we take time when these things happen and we make sure to make the best call possible."
Even Luigi, who went on to win five games before losing in his sixth, chimed in on Reddit, writing, "The rule went my way, but I can see how it could have easily gone the other way. If I had been Ken, I might have cut myself off, or given Harriet the split-second."