‘Jeopardy!’ contestant forced to apologize over ‘white supremacy’ gesture claims

Jeopardy! contestant is forced to apologize and denies claims he flashed three-fingered ‘white power’ symbol after winning third contest in a row

  • ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant Kelly Donohue has ‘unequivocally’ condemned White supremacy and racism 
  • Came after viewers accused him of flashing hand gesture that has become synonymous with White supremacist groups on Tuesday’s episode
  • Donohue held up three fingers to form an ‘OK’ sign which he held to his chest tapping it three times 
  • He previously held up one and two fingers to his chest after his first and second wins  
  • Gesture classified as a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019
  • ‘I absolutely, unequivocally condemn white supremacy and racism of any kind,’ Donohue said

Jeopardy! winner Kelly Donohue has said he is ‘truly horrified’ at claims he flashed a white power signal after winning his third consecutive contest. 

Donohue made the hand signal on Tuesday night’s show as he stretched out three fingers and placed them across his chest, with many viewers interpreting it as a white supremacist hand gesture. 

It came after he put one finger to his chest after his first win, and two on his torso after claiming victory for the second day in a row.  

‘I’m truly horrified with what has been posted about me on social media,’ Donohue wrote in a Facebook post denying claims of racism. 

‘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.

‘Jeopardy!’ contestant Kelly Donohue has ‘unequivocally’ condemned white supremacy and racism having been accused of making a racist gesture after flashing the OK sign. He said that it simply represented the three daily wins he had  

'I absolutely, unequivocally condemn white supremacy and racism of any kind,' Kelly Donohue wrote in a Facebook posting after being accused of making a racist gesture

‘I absolutely, unequivocally condemn white supremacy and racism of any kind,’ Kelly Donohue wrote in a Facebook posting after being accused of making a racist gesture

‘It’s shameful to me to think anyone would try to use the stage of ‘Jeopardy!’ to advance or promote such a disgusting agenda. During the taping of my fourth episode, I was simply raising three fingers to mark my 3rd win. There was nothing more I was trying to indicate,’ Donohue explained.

‘I deeply regret this terrible misunderstanding. I never meant to hurt a soul and I assure you I am no friend of racists or white supremacists,’ his post continued.  

‘I hope my feelings on that matter are clear now,’ he wrote. 

Eagle-eyed viewers were quick to note the gesture Donohue bore resemblance to that of a white power symbol. 

Various screen grabs of Donohue’s gesture also saw many on social media accusing him of making a racist gesture. 

The hand gesture has been used by far right-wing groups to represent white supremacy with the three fingers representing a ‘W ‘and the forefinger and thumb coming together to form a ‘P’ to represent ‘White Power’.  The motion was classified as a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019.

Donohue’s gesture saw him hold up three fingers to form an ‘OK’ sign before tapping it to his chest three times.

‘He held his thumb and forefinger together with his other three fingers extended and palm facing inward, and he tapped his chest,’ explained an open letter from 450 former Jeopardy! contestants. 

‘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.’

Jeopardy! has so far not made any comment regarding Donohue's gesture which he claims was innocent

Jeopardy! has so far not made any comment regarding Donohue’s gesture which he claims was innocent

Donohue, first posted on Facebook Wednesday morning to clear the air

Donohue, first posted on Facebook Wednesday morning to clear the air

This hand gesture has been used by far right-wing groups to represent white supremacy, and The Anti-Defamation League classified it as an official symbol of hate in 2019.

This hand gesture has been used by far right-wing groups to represent white supremacy, and The Anti-Defamation League classified it as an official symbol of hate in 2019.

‘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.

‘His public Facebook profile also featured a cover photo of Frank Sinatra making a similar gesture,’ the letter reads. ‘This was either erased or made private on Wednesday morning, along with hundreds of public comments on his few ‘Jeopardy!’-related posts.’  

Who are the Three Percenters?

The Three Percenters are a loosely organized movement that formed in 2008, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish civil rights organization that tracks extremist groups.

On its website, the right-wing group says it isn’t an anti-government militia but ‘we will defend ourselves when necessary.’

The Three Percenters derives its name from the belief that just 3% of the colonists rose up to fight the British. They have vowed to resist any government that infringes on the U.S. Constitution.

The Oregon Three Percenters joined an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016. 

Dozens of people occupied the remote refuge for more than a month to protest federal control of Western lands. 

The group also took part in a violent right-wing rally in Portland in 2019. 

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