Jeopardy has long been an American institution, with host Alex Trebek undergoing a transformation in hair color and mustache selection throughout the years but maintaining the show’s classic answer-first trivia format. SNL parodied the show with a classic series of sketches in which categories that were spelled to mean something innocuous were pronounced to mean something more risqué. The real life counterpart of that SNL-like scenario is not quite as funny.
On Tuesday night’s airing of the show, there was a category called “Name that TV Role.” The clue given was “‘Seinfeld’: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.”
Contenstant Fidelito Cortes buzzed in first, responding with the answer “Elaine.” Fans of ‘Seinfeld’ will recognizes that Elaine was, indeed, the character that Julia Louis-Dreyfus played on the show.
Trebek initially claimed that Cortes was incorrect. Following Trebek’s response, Cortes quickly added “Benes,” demonstrating his knowledge of the character’s last name.
“Oh, we’ll accept that,” Trebek said after hearing Cortes’s clear understanding of the correct answer.
Trebek attempted to justify the judge’s initial ruling. “It was EE-laine, not UHH-laine, Fidelito. That’s why the judges ruled against you on that one,” Trebek said.
Although the error on behalf of the Jeopardy folks was minor, it’s another mistake in a string of stingy instances. During August’s kid’s week on the show, the young Thomas Hurley III was penalized for adding an extra “t” to his Final Jeopardy answer, which read “The Emanciptation Proclamation.”
Even though it was written by a kid and likely an honest mistake, at least that response being counted as wrong was somewhat logical. “EE-laine” and “UH-laine” are simply different takes on the same word, which has caused some to accuse the show of being racist, considering Cortes is of Filipino descent.
It’s more likely that the show's judges are just picky about how their money is delved out. Cortes ended up winning last night’s show, raking in $25,000 to add to his two-day earnings of over $45,000.