There are a lot of technicalities that can mess with a Jeopardy! contestant’s correct answer, or even their big win. One of those was demonstrated on a recent episode of the game show, prompting a discussion about a possible change to how contestants write answers in for Final Jeopardy.
Contestant Loses Winnings With Final Answer
During Final Jeopardy, contestants write down their answers instead of buzzing in and saying them out loud. In a recent episode, this proved problematic for contestant Scott Gabrysiak when he had to write in a full sentence originally from Robert Frost. Host Ken Jennings read out his incomplete answer, saying, “He wrote down, ‘Good fences make good nei—’ and then it’s kind of a scribble after the ‘b,’ unfortunately.”
“We can’t give you credit for that,” Jennings explained. “You wagered $4,400. It’ll knock you down to zero.” Gabrysiak’s messy handwriting cost him a win, and some Jeopardy! watchers think it might be time to make a switch to keyboards.
‘Jeopardy!’ Has Provided Keyboards Before
The use of a keyboard during the game is not unprecedented. Eddie Timanus, Jeopardy!’s first blind contestant, appeared on the show in 1999. Timanus typed his answers to the Final Jeopardy questions on a Braille keyboard. Other than that, Timanus’ time on the show was much like any other contestants. He refused any sort of assistance other than receiving cards that spelled out the category names in Braille.
Fans loved watching Timanus compete and applauded Jeopardy! for making the game accessible to all contestants. “This is a testament to how accessible this game is for blind/visually impaired contestants,” one fan commented on a video of Timanus’ time on the show. It’s an easy example of how little it takes to make things more accessible for more people, especially given that it’s been two decades since Timanus competed.
Scott Gabrysiak’s failure to write his answer neat is just the latest evidence that transition from written answers to typed answers would level the playing field for a number of potential competitors. There’s no word yet on whether the show is seriously considering the change, but any hopeful contestants with messy handwriting, hand tremors, or any other conditions that make writing with a stylus a challenge definitely have their fingers crossed!