'Kids Jeopardy!' second-place finisher: I was 'cheated'

By Randee Dawn

Thomas Hurley III isn't done with his "Kids Jeopardy!" defeat. 

Last week the 12-year-old made headlines when he misspelled "Emancipation Proclamation" during Final Jeopardy! and earned sympathy from others who might have made the same mistake. (Worth noting: Winner Skyler Hornback bet big and got the answer right, so even with the right spelling Hurley wouldn't have walked away with the first prize.) 

Well, Hurley isn't going down quietly. In an interview with Danbury, Conn.'s News-Times, he said, "I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final 'Jeopardy!' question. It was just a spelling error."

The final "Jeopardy!" question, phrased in the form of an answer, was this: "Abraham Lincoln called this document, which took effect in 1863, 'a fit and necessary war measure.'"

Hurley's answer was correct, but included an extra "t" and was considered invalid because of the misspelling.

"It generated a little bit of controversy," Hurley's mom Suzanne admitted. "He was a little stunned by it. He felt embarrassed. It was hard to watch."

The paper said the show had lost Hurley as a fan, though he was proud to have been given a chance to play — it earned him a trip to California, and he says he'll be putting his $2,000 winnings toward paying for college. 

His family and friends are "proud of me," he said, but added, "It's just upsetting to have lost that way. I don't know why it would have counted as the wrong answer."

"Jeopardy!" producers told The Hollywood Reporter in an email: "If 'Jeopardy!' were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players. We love presenting young people as contestants on our show and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment."