A “Jeopardy!” contestant is fending off accusations after at-home viewers accused the two-time winner of flashing a hand gesture that has become synonymous with white supremacist groups.
Returning champion Kelly Donohue appeared on Tuesday’s episode of the competition trivia show and during the show’s introductions, Donohue appeared to hold up the last three fingers on his right hand, forming an “OK” sign touching his forefinger to his thumb and holding it to his chest. Donohue then tapped his chest three times with the hand gesture.
It didn’t take long before many on social media took to various platforms and accused Donohue of signaling with the gesture, which has since been classified as a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League as of 2019.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, Donohue vehemently denied signaling anything other than the number three – which was Donohue’s third appearance on the program. “That’s a 3. No more. No less.” Donohue wrote.
Donohue as well as reps for “Jeopardy!” did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Donohue will not appear on Wednesday’s telecast and has since made his social media account private.
Meanwhile, a formal letter from more than 400 alleged former “Jeopardy!” contestants published to Medium on Wednesday called for showrunners to act on the alleged condemned hand gesture.
“This, whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been coopted by white power groups, alt right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters,” the letter reads.
It goes on to say: “Regardless of his stated intent, the gesture is a racist dog whistle. Some of the first people to notice this were not affiliated with ‘Jeopardy!’ in any way — they were viewers who couldn’t believe what they’d seen, captured it on video, and shared it to Twitter. Among them were people of color who, needless to say, are attuned to racist messaging and not appreciative that the show allowed this symbol to be broadcast.”
The public decree went on to mention precedents in which “Jeopardy!” producers made post-production calls to either alter or remove other gestures or visuals that could have been misconstrued as something other than innocent actions.
“On more than one occasion, contestants have made gestures during their introductions that were seen as undesirable for broadcast and were asked by the production team to reshoot the footage without the gesture,” the letter said.
“A couple of years ago, a contestant unintentionally wagered a monetary amount that used numerical values coopted by white supremacist groups and, since the total didn’t affect the outcome of the game, ‘Jeopardy!’ digitally altered the numbers in the version that aired. This should have been done in this case,” it added.
The former show contestants asked that the show issue “a statement and a disavowal of both of this week’s events, and we would like to see ‘Jeopardy!’ address Kelly’s behavior.”