Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
September 3, 2013 Issue
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'Jeopardy' player
punished & rewarded

Story by Fred Stabbert III
MILESES — August 9, 2013 — Carol and Walt Sipple sat in their Mileses home last Wednesday, July 31, watching the ever-popular game show Jeopardy!
That is probably a pretty common occurrence across the county, but this night Walt and Carol were watching with special interest as their grandnephew, Thomas Hurley III of Newtown, CT, was competing in the Kids Week division.
“We were very excited, only 15 kids in the whole country qualified,” Walt, a former Fremont Supervisor and Town Judge, said. “He is really sharp.”
Thomas is the grandson of Walt’s sister, RuthAnn and her husband, Thomas Hurley Sr., of Newtown, CT. He is the son of Thomas Jr. and Suzanne Hurley.
“He is a 12-year-old smart little s---,” Walt said of his grandnephew. “He’s a bookworm… but a competitive bookworm.”
Carol and Walt watched intently as Thomas hung onto second place all night behind Skylar Hornback.
“He was really sharp, too,” Walt said of Skylar.
But things turned a little tense during the Final Jeopardy part of the show when Thomas wrote the correct answer but misspelled “Emancipation Proclamation.”
According to the Huffington Post, the answer was “Abraham Lincoln called this document, which took effect in 1863, ‘a fit and necessary war measure.’”
Thomas wrote, “What is the Emanciptation Proclamation,” adding an extra “t” after the “p.”
But his intent was abundantly clear.
Trebek let Thomas know the judges ruled against him because he “misspelled it badly.” “...That’s unfortunate,” said Trebek.
“Not that it made any difference,” Walt said. “The kid (Skylar) ended up with $66,000.
“Thomas finished second, but you could tell Thomas was pissed off,” Walt added.
When eventual champ and record-setter Skyler Hornback reveals that he has the correct question, Trebek notes, “It is spelled correctly also.”
Thomas tried hard to keep his composure. It should be noted that giving him credit would not have changed the outcome. But that didn’t stop watchers from lambasting the host and producers for shaming the kid and for being persnickety.
“Come on Jeopardy, this is a quiz show NOT! a SPELLING BEE,” wrote a commenter on the Facebook page.
In an interview posted before the broadcast, Thomas, who attends Newtown Middle School, told the Newtown Bee that playing “Jeopardy!” had been a “neat experience.”
At the time, however, he was sworn not to reveal what happened.
UPDATE: The producers of “Jeopardy!” emailed the following statement to The Huffington Post:
“If Jeopardy! were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players. We love presenting young people as contestants on our show, and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment.”
Well, when Great Uncle Walt and Thomas meet again things may go like this.
“Hello Thomas, how are you doing. Do you know how to spell ‘Emancipation Proclamation’?
“I know he will,” Walt said.

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