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Ken Jennings addresses ‘What's a hoe’ moment on ‘Jeopardy!’ 18 years later

Jennings says his answer should've been right and he wants the $200 he's owed.

Why wasn't the answer right?

That's the question TikTok users are asking as they circulate viral clips of Ken Jennings in 2004 as a contestant on "Jeopardy!," which he currently co-hosts. They say he was snubbed for the correct answer "What is a hoe," but it was ruled wrong. Jennings agrees with them.

"TikTok has apparently just discovered this and is delighted," Jennings said on TikTok in response to going viral for something that happened 18 years ago. "Yeah, why didn’t I get it right... I still think I was shafted, quite frankly. I think I’m owed $200 and maybe the writers should get a pool together.”

The category was "Tool Time" and Jennings chose the $200 slot. The prompt was "This term for a long handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker."

Jennings said he sees why "What's a hoe" was incorrect, but he still disagrees.

"I think the idea is the clue says it's 'an immoral pleasure seeker' and we don't want to characterize all hoes that way," he said to laughter from the audience. "Rakes, apparently, we're okay with that aspersion on their character.

One of the definitions for "rake," according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, is "a dissolute person." Also, the prompt specified "a long handled gardening tool" and hoes have short handles while rakes have longer ones.

A more recent "Jeopardy!" moment that went viral is when contestant Julian Glander sang the alphabet backwards in April. The show recorded an earlier version of him doing it and played it on the show to confirm it does in fact sound like the alphabet song.

Jennings became co-host of the show, along with Mayim Bialik, in July after guest hosting for a couple of years. They replaced Alex Trebek, the longtime host who died in 2020.

Jennings said on the "Inside Jeopardy!" podcast in August that Trebek's legacy influences how he hosts.

“It was always a little bit intimidating to walk out and see Alex, not because he inculcated that, but just because the man was a legend," Jennings said. "So I don’t want to be part of what intimidates the contestants. I want them to know that I got their back.”