Jeopardy! winner Kelly Donohue condemned white supremacy on Thursday after receiving a wave of hate on social media for making a three-fingered gesture that people falsely associated with white power groups.
“I’m truly horrified with what has been posted about me on social media,” Donohue wrote on Facebook. “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 added that he thought it was “shameful” to “think anyone would try to use the stage of Jeopardy! to advance or promote such a disgusting agenda.”
Several former show participants wrote an open letter on Medium published Wednesday condemning Donohue’s actions.
“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!” they wrote.
The alleged incident on the show that got people riled was when Donohue “held his thumb and forefinger together with his other three fingers extended and palm facing inward, and he tapped his chest.”
Donohue claimed that he was merely emphasizing that he won three games, pointing out that he gestured with one and then two fingers to symbolize his previous wins on previous episodes of the game show.
The letter writers, however, claimed that the way he indicated the number three was similar to a gesture appropriated by white power groups. In light of Donohue’s statement, fact-checking website Snopes.com determined that Donohue did not make a white power hand gesture.
The second of the incidents the letter goes into detail about occurred on Monday, when “Kelly responded to a clue with a term for the Roma that is considered a slur.”
In light of the two incidents, the former Jeopardy! contestants are calling on the show to release a statement disavowing Donohue’s behavior.
This is not the first time Jeopardy! alumni have gotten riled up about the direction of the show.
In March, 500 past Jeopardy! contestants signed a letter petitioning the show to remove Dr. Mehmet Oz as a guest host because of his alleged dismissal of the coronavirus in the past.