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One Simple Mistake Ended This 9-Day Jeopardy! Streak (& Fans Are Furious)

There's a reason "Jeopardy!" has lasted as long as it has. Plenty of viewers tune in to each episode to watch players test their trivia knowledge against one another. And there's no greater thrill than watching someone win one episode after the next to get a formidable streak going. It's tough to watch an impressive streak end, but it's even tougher when there's some debate about whether a loss is justified. 

That was the case for the May 23, 2023 episode, featuring Ben Chan, who was on a nine-day winning streak. He was in the lead going into Final Jeopardy, where the category was "Shakespeare's Characters," with the clue being, "Both of the names of these 2 lovers in a Shakespeare play come from Latin words for 'blessed.'" The other contestants incorrectly wrote down "Romeo and Juliet," with the true answer being "Beatrice and Benedick." Chan technically wrote the correct names down, but he misspelled "Benedick" as "Benedict." According to "Jeopardy!" rules, that was enough to label his answer as incorrect, and he ended up losing that episode, bringing his streak to a close. 

Chan was likely upset at losing over being one letter off, and fans are right there with him. Many have taken to social media to express their outrage over such a diminutive spelling error. 

Fans think the Jeopardy! judges should've known what Ben Chan meant

There have been plenty of embarrassing flubs on "Jeopardy!" over the years, but Ben Chan's answer was relatively mild compared to those. He was only off by one letter, and it's obvious he knew the answer even if he didn't know how to spell "Benedick." Numerous people took to Twitter to express their disdain over the ruling, especially seeing how Chan is obviously an intelligent guy who could've gone far on the show. 

Twitter user @david_peterle wrote, "Since when does being off by one letter count in final jep? There's no other character he could have meant." Many people agreed with them in the comments, and it brings to light an important distinction with Final Jeopardy. Throughout most of any given game, contestants have to say out loud their response, meaning it just needs to sound correct. Final Jeopardy brings spelling into the equation, which makes things trickier. 

Another Twitter user, @_MarkWithAnM, pointed out how unfair the ruling was in light of another contestant's response: "Lynn doesn't finish spelling 'Juliet' yet it's ruled as a complete (albeit incorrect) response, and Ben misspells Benedick by one letter and is ruled incorrect. Clearly they knew what he was going for and yet ended his run on a terrible technicality." Meanwhile, @metallidan brought up how Chan would've been fine had it been a regular round: "The thing I hate about #Jeopardy is if Ben had said that response he would have got it correct, but writing it was wrong. The inconsistency has always bugged me." While the ruling irked fans, it does appear to be in line with official "Jeopardy!" rules, even if it is a bit pedantic. 

Official Jeopardy! rules state a written response must be phonetically accurate

It may seem like splitting hairs to say "Benedict" is too far away from "Benedick" to be accurate, but technically, "Jeopardy!" may be in the right on this one. Going to the show's website, there's a section on spelling, which states, "Jeopardy! is not a spelling test – unless, of course, the category requires it. Written responses to the Final Jeopardy! clue do not have to be spelled correctly, but they must be phonetically correct and not add or subtract any extraneous sounds or syllables."

Technically, "Benedict" is pronounced slightly differently than "Benedick," so going by the guidelines, Ben Chan's answer should be labeled inaccurate. Redditor u/bertisrobert thought the ruling was harsh, but even they agreed it was likely the right one: "Unfortunately as much as it looks harsh, it is the correct call. I have to lean with the judges on this one. I just wish Mayim [Bialik] would have demonstrated the difference of the two names a bit more or explained why Ben's answer is wrong. Like along the lines of 'Unfortunately the judges will not accept it as it is pronounced differently..' or exaggerated the pronunciation slightly."

From the outrage exhibited online, it's obvious Chan was a fan favorite, but at least he's not walking away empty-handed. His nine consecutive victories allotted him $252,600 in winnings. Plus, he'll have a chance to win even more during the 2023 Tournament of Champions.