Producers of the iconic game show Jeopardy!, hosted by Alex Trebek, have apologized for a recent incorrect ruling on the birthplace of Jesus that it has chalked up to “human error in post-production.”
The show mistakenly ruled that his birthplace was at the Church of the Nativity in Israel, when the correct answer should have the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine.
Millions of viewers are believed to have witnessed the mistake on the game show, broadcast on NBC, during which contestant Katie Needle originally got the answer correct, but lost the $200 amount the question was worth on her scoreboard.
Fellow contestant Jack McGuire buzzed in afterward and said the church was in Israel, gaining the $200 on his scoreboard.
Following a commercial break, show producers seemed to have caught the mistake, as they awarded Needle $200 for her response, but they did not correct McGuire’s incorrect answer, adding to the confusion of the moment, especially for viewers commenting on social media during the show.
“Hey @Jeopardy, The Church of Nativity is in #Palestine. How was her answer wrong?” wrote Abed A. Ayoub, the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “You should correct this or make a statement. Embarrassing and wrong on many levels.”
Jeopardy producers have since issued an apology for the mistake, which sparked a backlash online and from Palestinian advocacy organizations.
Their statement reads as follows: “In the process of taping this clue, ‘BUILT IN THE 300s A.D., THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY’ we became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic.
“In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out. We restored Katie’s and Jack’s scores to what they were prior to the clue. The outcome of the game was not affected.
“Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast.
“We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.”
Christians believe the Church of the Nativity, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, to be the birthplace of Jesus. It is located in Bethlehem, which resides in the occupied West Bank. Palestine’s control was legitimized in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Needle ended up winning the game and secured a two-day winnings total of $53,602.
“Thanks! Palestine should be free,” Needle wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet praising her answer on the show, with a Palestinian flag emoji at the end of her sentence.
— Chris Whitman (@ChrisWhitman11) January 11, 2020