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'Jeopardy!' Contestant Speaks Out After He's Accused Of Marking Wins With 'White Power' Hand Signal

'Jeopardy!' Contestant Speaks Out After He's Accused Of Marking Wins With 'White Power' Hand Signal

Fans of Jeopardy! likely became familiar with Kelly Donohue in recent weeks, as he won three rounds of the trivia game in a row.

But now viewers may be aware of his name for potentially far less savory reasons.

Each night Donohue won, he signified the number of times he won the game with the corresponding number of fingers on his right hand.

But on Donohue's fourth visit to the show, when he hoped to win for the fourth time, Kelly Donohue made a hand signal that many deemed as racist and supportive of White Supremacist groups.

Last Tuesday night, when Donohue was introduced as winning three consecutive shows, he held his hand in front of his chest with his pointer and thumb touching together and the other three fingers extended, before tapping the hand to his chest.

Some viewers noticed the gesture on Tuesday and shared their concern online, like this one:

There was a debate online whether Donohue was more of an umpire or a White Supremacist.

He may have been communicating the number three the way they do in baseball.

Or Donahue may have been giving a nod to the prominent White Supremacist group, the Three Percenters.

Donahue responded to these concerns on his Facebook page in a post he has since deleted, due to overwhelming negative attention.

Donahue claimed in that post:

"Many of the great champions of old had a little signature hello they would do on-screen when being introduced by Johnny Gilbert. I decided to count my victories."
"That's a 1. That's a 2. That's a 3. No more. No less."
"Had I managed to repeat as champion, you'd have been treated to a 4."

This explanation was not enough for those who believed Donahue had put on a racist display, however.

Former participants on Jeopardy! wrote a public letter of concern to the producers of the show, demanding the show be more properly vetted for sensitive and potentially racist content before it airs for the public.

The group wrote:

"As people whose lives have been largely beneficially impacted by this show and its community, we really hope to see a statement and a disavowal of both of this week's events, and we would like to see 'Jeopardy' address Kelly's behavior."
"We know that contestants sign morals and ethics-related agreements when they prepare to appear on the show, and we would ask the production team to evaluate this situation within that framework."
"Most problematic to us as a contestant community is the fact that Kelly has not publicly apologized for the ramifications of the gesture he made."
"If something has been misconstrued, an apology and a total disavowal of any connection to White Supremacist doctrines is called for. We saw that gesture air on television."
"We cannot stand up for hate. We cannot stand next to hate. We cannot stand onstage with something that looks like hate."
"We are ashamed to be associated with brands and identities that suffer the taint of hateful statements and actions, particularly if they go unchallenged by those at the top."

With the questions and concerns continuing to pile up, Donahue wrote a second Facebook post, which is still available.

Donahue stated:

"I'm truly horrified with what has been posted about me on social media. I absolutely, unequivocally condemn White Supremacy and racism of any kind."
"I am not a racist, and I reject and condemn White Supremacy and all forms of bigotry for the evil they are."
"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."
"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."
"I did, however, understand the fair criticism that I did not include a forceful condemnation of White Supremacy in my initial statement."

The writers and producers of Jeopardy! have yet to respond to the concerns that started last Tuesday.

But once again, it's clear we need to continue to have these conversations about racism, acceptance, and sensitivity, especially in spaces as public as a much-loved game show that many, including families and children, will see.