Jeopardy contestant Kelly Donohue has issued a statement condemning white supremacy and apologizing for the "terrible misunderstanding" that ensued after he allegedly flashed a hand gesture associated with white supremacist hate groups on the game show.
On Tuesday's episode, Donohue made a hand gesture during his on-camera introduction resembling the "okay" gesture, which according to the Anti-Defamation League has been co-opted by multiple far-right and white supremacist groups. On Wednesday, more than 450 former Jeopardy contestants signed an open letter calling on the show to address the incident as backlash against Donohue grew on social media.
Jeopardy Productions, Inc. Kelly Donohue on 'Jeopardy'
"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," Donohue wrote in a Facebook post Thursday. "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. It's shameful to me to think anyone would try to use the stage of Jeopardy! to advance or promote such a disgusting agenda."
Donohue also reiterated his earlier statement, in a since-deleted Facebook post addressing the blowback, asserting that the gesture was simply a number three intended to "count my victories." Donohue was a three-day champion heading into Tuesday's episode, and had previously gestured with one finger and two fingers in accordance with the number of games he'd won.
"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," he wrote in his new post. "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." He added that he deleted the earlier post "because the comments were more than I could bear."
"I did, however, understand the fair criticism that I did not include a forceful condemnation of white supremacy in my initial statement," Donohue concluded. "I hope my feelings on that matter are clear now."
Representatives for Jeopardy did not respond to EW's requests for comment on the matter.