*Over 400 former ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants are requesting an apology after a recent winner allegedly flashed a white supremacist hand gesture during the players’ introduction.
The group penned an open letter published to Medium on Wednesday condemning contestant Kelly Donohue for throwing up an upsidedown “OK” sign on the game show. The symbol is an alleged white power salute, and viewers have taken to social media to call out the show’s producers for not catching it in the moment and editing it out before the show aired.
“A recent contestant has caused concern among ‘Jeopardy!’ viewers for two separate occurrences, and we as former contestants feel the need to speak out against the messaging that these choices communicated — either intentionally or unintentionally — by the contestant Kelly Donohue and, implicitly by association, the producers of ‘Jeopardy!’” the letter states.
‘Jeopardy!’ winner slammed for allegedly holding up a white power hand gesture after a group of former contestants on the show sent an open letter accusing the producers of missing it. #THRNews pic.twitter.com/k6OL9zYCun
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 29, 2021
“He held his thumb and forefinger together with his other three fingers extended and palm facing inward, and he tapped his chest,” the letter said. “This, whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been co-opted by white power groups, alt-right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters.”
The letter also mentions an incident on April 26 in which Donohue responded to a clue using a term considered a racial slur.
“Leaving this messaging unchecked will encourage others to attempt similar things in the future,” contestants said in the letter. “Is the production team of Jeopardy! prepared for more of this? Prepared for more attempts to disguise contempt as innocent gesturing? Prepared for the backlash and ramifications should one of those moments ever become tied to real-world violence?”
On Thursday Donohue took to Facebook to condemn racism and insist that the three-fingered gesture was meant to denote his third win.
“I’m truly horrified with what has been posted about me on social media,” Donohue writes today. “I absolutely, unequivocally condemn white supremacy and racism of any kind. People who know me personally know that I am not a racist, but for the public at large it bears repeating: I am not a racist and I reject and condemn white supremacy and all forms of bigotry for the evil they are.”
Donohue went on to say that he regrets “this terrible misunderstanding.”
“I never meant to hurt a soul and I assure you I am no friend of racists or white supremacists,” he said.