'Jeopardy!' Contestant Under Fire Over On-Air Gesture A woman holds a sign voicing various conspiracy theories at the "Reopen Virginia" protest in Richmond on April 22, 2020. Three Percenters are a movement that advocates for constitutional rights. (Photo by Matthew Rodier/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
By Theodore Bunker | Wednesday, 28 April 2021 11:01 AM
A contestant on "Jeopardy!" Tuesday encountered controversy after briefly holding up 3 fingers, a gesture that has become associated with white supremacist movements.
Returning champion Kelly Donohue of Winthrop, Massachusetts, held up 3 fingers after being introduced on Tuesday’s episode, which caused some viewers to accuse him of of harboring white supremacist sympathies or beliefs due to the co-opting of the "ok" hand gesture by users of the online message board 4chan as a symbol for "wp" or "white power."
"The current reigning champion on Jeopardy! flashed the Three Percenter white supremacist sign during his introduction tonight," one Twitter user wrote. "Suspected he was a MF all week and he just confirmed it. WTF was this allowed to be aired?"
The Three Percenter movement is a anti-government extremist militia movement, supporters of which often hold up their middle, ring and pinky fingers in a representation of the Roman numeral 3, which resembles the "ok" hand gesture.
Another user wrote, “Whoa, #OK. That's not how people display '3' on fingers. Add to that the smirk of a middle-school boy who thinks he's sneaking a white supremacist symbol into the yearbook. As the teacher with the marker that blacked out those yearbooks, I know this. Edit better, #Jeopardy!"
Former "Jeopardy!" contestant Bobby Goldstein said, “@Jeopardy one more former contestant here wondering how #Jeopardy let a white power symbol onto the air.”
Another user pointed out that it could be a reference to Donohue's 3 wins on the show, since he previously held up 2 fingers in the last episode and 1 finger in the episode that aired last Friday.
The Anti-Defamation League notes that although "Use of the okay symbol in most contexts is entirely innocuous and harmless,” it was promoted as a hate symbol as part of a 4chan hoax that caught on with white supremacists, who “seem to have abandoned the ironic or satiric intent behind the original trolling campaign and used the symbol as a sincere expression of white supremacy."
The ADL concludes that "because of the traditional meaning of the 'okay' hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture."