If you happened to watch Jeopardy! Monday night, you bore witness to a horrifying moment. Three (3) contestants failed to guess the easiest answer of all time: “Who is Tom Hanks?”
The question came up under the category “Biopics” and was worth $ 200. “In A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers is played by this beloved actor.” While host Alex Trebek read the question, footage of Hanks as Mr. Rogers played onscreen.
But, in a truly shocking moment, none of the three contestants — Kevin Jones, Beverly Randez, and Andrew Thomson — pressed their buzzers. Randez appeared to make an attempt at the last minute, but didn’t get there in time.
It is, of course, incredibly disturbing that three human adults on a quiz show wouldn’t be able to identify Tom Hanks, much less with video footage of Tom playing in front of their faces. However, this may not be what actually happened.
According to the Jeopardy! blog The Jeopardy! Fan, where fan Andy Saunders chronicles every episode in detail, the show’s set may have malfunctioned:
Before anyone accuses the three players of not knowing Tom Hanks (the BIOPICS $ 200 clue), it has been reported by audience members from this game that the lights on the signaling system malfunctioned (failed to activate properly) and the contestants were unable to buzz in. Since the judges determined that no one player was advantaged or disadvantaged, it was ruled as “no harm, no foul”, and the game would continue without a clue replacement.
On the Jeopardy! subreddit, user jmt613 alleged a similar story. “The lights that flash after Alex reads the clue malfunctioned, so contestants weren’t able to buzz in. The game was paused, and the judges eventually determined that since no players were penalized by the error, they would continue on with the game,” they wrote.
This explanation makes sense, particularly given Randez’s last-ditch buzz. At the very least, it would soothe a small portion of the internet’s (and our) hurt and anxiety.
We’ve reached out to both Saunders and Jeopardy! for comment and will update if we hear back.
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