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When, Mr. Trebek, is 'emanciptation' a perfectly fine spelling?

One letter.

The 12-year-old boy misspelled his answer — the right answer — in the Final Jeopardy round of Jeopardy by one letter.

He wrote “emanciptation proclamation” instead of emancipation proclamation.

And for this, Alex Trebek, shot the kid down.

“No,” said Trebek.


At the end of the show, broadcast last week during Kid’s Week Jeopardy, you could see that Thomas Hurley III of Connecticut was trying not to cry as he stood with his parents on the Jeopardy stage as the final credits rolled. His shoulders slumped. His dad patted him. And a lot of us viewers were thinking the same thing: The kid was wronged. It was one extra dumb letter.

Thomas finished with $6,600, putting him in second place, so he took home $2,000. He could not have beaten the first place finisher, Skyler Hornback, anyway. Skyler rang up ten times as much cash, $66,600.

And, yes, let this be a lesson to Thomas in how to be a good sport.

But still.

Thousands of Jeopardy fans are howling on message boards. Some say it was a plot. Some think Trebek should resign.

It wasn’t a plot, and Alex is still a good guy, though we miss the mustache.

The show’s executives explained in a press release, ““If Jeopardy! were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players.”

And Hurley is hardly the first contestant to be slapped down for a minor spelling error. On June 6, 2007, in response to the clue “this sea hundreds of miles east of Florida has no land boundaries,” a contestant responded “Saragasso Sea” instead of “Sargasso Sea.”

But we swear we’ve seen Trebek go easy on spelling-challenged contestants in the past.

What are the official Final Jeopardy rules? Where are the rules? We couldn’t find them on Jeopardy’s official website.

One commentator on the show’s message board remarked that he’s seen Trebek approve misspelled answers, but only when the pronunciation of the misspelled word was not different than that of the correctly spelled one.

If only Thomas had written “imancipation.”