A Jeopardy contestant’s mispronunciation of the word “gangsta” lost him $3,200 on the show Monday evening — and elicited strong reactions from viewers online.
Nick Spicher, a museum educator from Everett, Wash., went on to win Monday’s round of Jeopardy with $15,201, even with what could have been a game-losing mistake along the way.
Alex Trebek, the game show’s longtime host, posed the $1,600 clue for the “Music & Literature Before & After” category: “A song by Coolio from Dangerous Minds goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic.”
Spicher responded, “What is ‘Gangster’s Paradise Lost’” — a play on Coolio’s song “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Initially, Trebek said Spicher had the correct answer. But later, Trebek revealed some bad news.
“The judges have reevaluated one of your responses a few moments ago, Nick,” Trebek said. “You said ‘Gangster’s’ instead of ‘Gangsta’s’ on that song by Coolio.”
At that point Spicher’s winnings dropped from $12,000 to $8,800, thus losing $3,200 and putting him in second place. Fortunately for Spicher, he rallied to win Monday night’s show, and went on to get second place and $2,000 on Tuesday night.
Jeopardy released a statement from the show’s Judges’ Table on Monday night, explaining how the mispronunciation elicited the correction. “Gangsta” and “gangster” have two different listings in the Oxford English Dictionary, Jeopardy‘s Judges’ Table noted.
“Nick changed not only the song’s title, but also its meaning – making his response unacceptable,” they wrote.
The clip of Spicher’s answer went viral this week as viewers shared the slight slip-up on social media.
On what appears to be Spicher’s Twitter account, he live-tweeted his appearance on Tuesday night’s episode and joked about how his mistake had gone viral. He tweeted that he thought he had said “gangsta,” but said the show “had every right to call me out on it.”
“I still don’t know what to make of this whole Coolio thing,” Spicher wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “I think I already said all I’m going to say on it. I’m glad people are having fun with it. And I hope it blows over soon.;)”