A contestant on the American game show ‘Jeopardy’ found out the hard way that even when you give the correct answer, pronunciation is everything.
On Monday’s episode of the long-running show, contestant Nick Spicher banked $3200 (£2358) only to have it taken away from him moments later, thanks to a seriously pedantic judge.
Nick came unstuck during the ‘Music & Literature Before & Afters’ category round, where contestants combine well-known entities to create a new phrase.
So, the question in errrm, question?
“A song by Coolio from ‘Dangerous Minds’ goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic.”
A confident Nick answered: “What is Gangster’s Paradise Lost?”, taking him into the lead, with $11,200 banked.
But just moments later, host Alex Trebek revoked the dollar value Spicher had won from the answer.
If that wasn’t bad enough he also paid the penalty he should have received for answering incorrectly.
“Our judges have re-evaluated one of your responses a few moments ago, Nick,” Alex told him. “You said ‘gangster’s’ instead of ‘gangsta’s’ on that song by Coolio, so we take $3,200 away from you. So you are now in second place.”
Full details of the error was later explained on the show’s blog, noting that each response in the game is carefully reviewed “at the Judges’ Table during live gameplay to ensure that it is complete and accurate.”
As such, it was one syllable that cost Nick his dollar.
“Although Nick’s response of ‘Gangster’s Paradise Lost’ was initially accepted, the hard R sound caught the ear of one member of the onstage team, who immediately followed up with a quick check,” the blog post reads. “It turns out that ‘gangsta’ and ‘gangster’ are both listed separately in the Oxford English Dictionary, each with its own unique definition.”
In other words, because Nick’s response changed not only the title, but also its meaning, it was rendered unacceptable.
It wasn’t all bad news for Nick though - he went on to win the competition anyway.