Don’t underestimate the power of quiz shows – at least for fostering angry crowds. When eighth-grader Thomas Hurley was disqualified from the show for a spelling error in his answer, the show’s Facebook fans went livid. If you’re not a regular viewer and are currently a bit confused as to what an eighth-grader was even doing on there, Thomas was participating in the quiz program’s 'Kid Week' and apparently doing a pretty good job too. But 'Kid Week' or not, Jeopardy wasn’t about to go lax on its strict rules and when Thomas answered one question with “Emanciptation Proclamaition” – almost managing to name the document with which Abraham Lincoln ended legalized slavery.

Alex Trebek, Daytime Emmy Awards
Trebek was criticised for his harsh ruling.

But a misspelled answer was not good enough in the eyes of Jeopardy host Alex Trebec, and Thomas’ answer was discounted, dropping his earnings to $6000, far below the $66 000 of the winner. The Newtown eighth-grader’s mother also confirmed that he has been feeling quite low after the loss, having said, according to the New York Daily News: “He felt embarrassed. It was hard to watch.”

Some of Jeopardy’s Facebook fans also rallied around the boy, with one posting on the show’s Facebook page: I watched that show and I disagree with Mr Trebek for this reason: he has often let misspellings slide on final jeopardy because you are writing as opposed to saying the answer. I have heard him say that they do not penalize for incorrect spelling when adults are playing. I saw how the young man wrote the answer and it was obvious that it was correct.”

Watch Trebek make the controversial decision below.

Then again, there were those, who supported Trebek’s ruling, with sentiments like: “In this day and age of letting spelling and grammar get wildly out of control, I applaud Trebeck and Jeopardy for sticking to their rules. Spelling the answer correctly is just as vital to being credited as getting the correct answer. This has ALWAYS been the case on this show.”

While producers fired off a letter defending Trebek’s call, the Facebook outrage continues. Clearly, the complex topic of keen social relevance will keep the debate going on for a while.

Alex Trebek, Daytime Emmy Awards
The Daytime Emmy winner defended himself.