‘Jeopardy!’ contestant faces backlash for hand gesture associated with white supremacy

The player introductions from Tuesday’s Jeopardy! caused quite an uproar on Twitter as many viewers were left wondering if returning champion Kelly Donohue made a hand gesture which has been classified as a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League. The symbol, which is often referred to as the “OK” sign, has been tied to white supremacists.

Context does matter. One fan pointed out that Donohue held up fingers during his previous introductions in correlation to how many games he had won, and coming into Tuesday he had won three games so he held up three fingers.

What Donohue hoped to communicate with his gesture is open to interpretation, but it should be noted that his third place earnings did help make our global society a little bit better. “Jeopardy!” donated $23,600 to Justice Defenders, which brings legal support to those who wouldn't otherwise have it in East Africa.

Video Transcript

- And our returning champion, a bank examiner from Winthrop, Massachusetts, Kelly Donohue, whose three day match winnings totals $79,601.

- The player introductions from Tuesday's "Jeopardy" caused quite an uproar on Twitter as many viewers were left wondering if returning champion Kelly Donahue made a gesture which has been classified as a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League. While the symbol has been tied to white supremacists, context does matter. One fan pointed out that Donohue held up fingers during his previous introductions in correlation to how many games he had won.

And coming into Tuesday, he had won three games. And Donahue even admitted during the game that he doesn't always make the best decisions.

- You get a story about giving a gift to your wife that--

- Sure, I gave her a steam cleaner for Christmas.

- Wow.

- And it's a kind of gift that you really shouldn't have get your wife.

- Yeah.

- And I live to regret it.

- Given the current focus on social justice reform and abolition of systemic racism, many people and groups are hyper aware of hate speech. For example, San Jose State recently did away with its Spartan Up gesture because it so closely resembled the racist OK gesture. What Donohue hopes to communicate with his gesture is open to interpretation, but it should be noted that his third place earnings did help make our global society a little bit better.

- "Jeopardy" is going to match your earnings of $23,600, donate it to justice defenders working to bring legal support to those who wouldn't otherwise have it in East Africa. Thanks so much for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.

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