“What is the Emanciptation Proclamation?” the eighth-grader from Connecticut wrote as the answer to the clue: Abraham Lincoln called this document, which took effect in 1863, “a fit and necessary war measure.”
“That’s unfortunate,” he said. “The judges are ruling against you.”
Thomas was in second place with $9,600 in winnings, and he had wagered $3,000 on the answer. The outcome of the game wouldn’t have mattered if he had spelled the answer correctly.
Nevertheless, tears were clearly visible in the boy’s eyes as his parents joined him onstage at the end of the show.
“The thing that bothered me most was the way Alex Trebek and the producers treated my son. They were kind of smug,” his father, Thomas Hurley II, told CNN. “It’s a kids’ tournament! Everyone knew what he meant.”
The boy, a regular fan of the show, said he’ll no longer watch.
“I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the final 'Jeopardy!' question,” he told the News Times. “It was just a spelling error.”
The game show is standing by the decision, citing “fair and consistent” treatment of all contestants.