Jeopardy! contestant denies flashing white power sign

Jeopardy! contestant Kelly Donohue has “unequivocally” denounced claims that he flashed a white supremacist hand gesture during an appearance on the quiz show last week.

Making his third appearance on the trivia competition, Donohue held up his right hand with three fingers outstretched while his forefinger and thumb formed an “OK” sign.

Some viewers at home immediately accused him of using a symbol that has been associated with different hate groups. But Donohue said he was “simply raising three fingers to mark my third win.”

“I’m truly horrified with what has been posted about me on social media,” Donohue wrote on Facebook. “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.”

A letter published to Medium called on show producers to act on the alleged hand gesture.

“During his on-camera introduction, Kelly made a gesture with his hand that he has since claimed was an indication that he had won three games,” the letter reads.

It goes on to add, “This, whether intentional or not, resembled very closely a gesture that has been co-opted by white power groups, alt right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters … Regardless of his stated intent, the gesture is a racist dog whistle.”

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In a since-deleted Facebook post addressing the controversy, Donohue said, “That’s a 3. No more. No less.”

The letter also noted that the Massachusetts state bank examiner responded to a clue from host Anderson Cooper with a term for the Roma people that is considered a slur, which the CNN host noted on air.

“I deeply regret this terrible misunderstanding,” Donohue added in his Facebook post. “I never meant to hurt a soul and I assure you I am no friend of racists or white supremacists.”

Jeopardy! reps didn’t respond to the controversy, but Donohue’s three-day winning streak came to end last Wednesday.

60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker takes over as guest host for the next two weeks.

mdaniell@postmedia.com

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