Jeopardy! Schools a Contestant: A "Gangster" Is Not a "Gangsta"

See the viral moment from Monday night's episode that cost a contestant $3,200

By Elyse Dupre Jan 03, 2018 9:59 PMTags
Alex Trebek, JeopardyFacebook

A Jeopardy! contestant lost $3,200 after he said "gangster" instead of "gangsta."

During Monday's episode, contestant Nick Spicher chose a $1,600 clue in the Music and Literature: Before and After category, which required contestants to connect two titles that shared a common word.

"A song by Coolio from ‘Dangerous Minds' goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic," host Alex Trebek said, reading the clue aloud. 

"What is Gangster's Paradise Lost?" Spicher said, linking the rapper's 1995 hit "Gangsta's Paradise" with the poet's poem "Paradise Lost." 

Trebek deemed the answer correct and awarded the total. 

Shortly after, however, the host retracted his remarks.

"Our judges have re-evaluated one of your responses a few moments ago, Nick. You said ‘ganster'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," Trebek said, deducting the awarded total and taking away another $1,600 for the incorrect answer. This caused Spicher's total to drop from $12,000 to $8,800.

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Jeopardy! clarified the score deduction on its website.

"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," a highlight article on read. "It turns out that ‘gangsta' and ‘gangster' are both listed separately in the Oxford English Dictionary, each with its own unique definition. Nick changed not only the song's title, but also its meaning –making his response unacceptable."

At the top of the article, the author also explained that "every contestant response is reviewed at the Judges' Table during live gameplay to ensure that it is complete and accurate" and that producers, writers and third-party observers will pause the game if a score change is in question.

"Today's Double Jeopardy! round was no exception: The judges ultimately ruled against Nick's response of ‘Gangster's Paradise Lost,' and it all came down to one syllable," the article read.

The TV moment went viral and generated a range of Internet memes. A video of the clip tweeted by Roy Wood Jr. from The Daily Show has already been viewed about 2.2 million times.

Watch the video to see the clip.