Did Jeopardy! champion Kelly Donohue flash a 'white power' symbol on TV? According to the fact-checking website Snopes, he did not. But many people believe he did, and are demanding an apology.
"Donohue is a bank examiner hailing from Massachusetts. While being introduced by the show's host, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, he made a brief hand gesture that sparked an online fury," reported Snopes' Bethania Palma. "But Donohue's gesture seems to be an indicator of the number of times he has won. His appearance on April 27 was his third win, and he was holding up three fingers. Similarly, during his introduction on previous shows, Donohue held up two fingers and one finger, signaling he had won twice, and once, respectively. Images of these moments, from April 23 April 26, and can be seen here."
For years, some white nationalists have been using the "OK" hand gesture to mean "white power" — because the three fingers resembles a "W" and the index, thumb, and wrist resemble a "P".
An added bonus for these groups is that it promotes paranoia among people knowledgeable of the second meaning when a high-profile figure innocently uses the common gesture for another meaning.
"The overwhelming usage of the 'okay' hand gesture today is still its traditional purpose as a gesture signifying assent or approval," the Anti-Defamation League states on its website. "As a result, someone who uses the symbol cannot be assumed to be using the symbol in either a trolling or, especially, white supremacist context unless other contextual evidence exists to support the contention. Since 2017, many people have been falsely accused of being racist or white supremacist for using the 'okay' gesture in its traditional and innocuous sense."
Although Donohue says he didn't intend for his gesture to convey any white supremacist meaning, hundreds of Jeopardy! alumni want him to apologize for it anyway, reported Entertainment Weekly: "In an open letter published to Medium on Wednesday, the group writes, 'A recent contestant has caused concern among Jeopardy! viewers for two separate occurrences, and we as former contestants feel the need to speak out against the messaging that these choices communicated — either intentionally or unintentionally — by the contestant Kelly Donohue and, implicitly by association, the producers of Jeopardy!'"