The “Jeopardy!” winner accused of flashing a hand gesture in support of “white power” insisted Thursday the whole thing is a “terrible misunderstanding” and that he’s “not a racist.”
Kelly Donohue — condemned by former contestants for displaying a three-fingered hand sign associated with white supremacist groups — said it was meant to celebrate his “third win” and that he’s “horrified” by the misinterpretation.
“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, a banker from Winthrop, Mass., wrote in a Facebook post Thursday morning.
“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.”
Kelly Donohue says his hand gesture was intended to celebrate his third win.Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
He added, “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.”
Hundreds of former show participants slammed Kelly Donohue for not only his gesture, but the use of a slur against Roma people.Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
In an open letter published Wednesday, hundreds of former show participants ripped Donohue for two “offensive” incidents on the show this week.
In the “more widely felt” of the two “missteps,” Donohue “held his thumb and forefinger together with his other three fingers extended and palm facing inward, and he tapped his chest,” the letter says.
The hand symbol has been “coopted by white power groups, alt-right groups, and an anti-government group that calls itself the Three Percenters,” it states.
“I’m truly horrified,” Kelly Donohue said of the misinterpretation of the gesture.Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
In the second incident, “Kelly responded to a clue with a term for the Roma that is considered a slur” on the show Monday.
Donohue posted a response to the letter on Facebook Wednesday, claiming the accusations were a misunderstanding — then deleted it and posted a new message Thursday with a more “forceful condemnation of white supremacy,” he said.
“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 wrote in the new post.
“I reject and condemn white supremacy and all forms of bigotry,” Kelly Donohue said in a statement following the public backlash.Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
“I removed the previous post because the comments were more than I could bear. I stand by the statement itself and you can find it reported in other media. I did, however, understand the fair criticism that I did not include a forceful condemnation of white supremacy in my initial statement. I hope my feelings on that matter are clear now,” he wrote.
Donohue’s post doesn’t address the “Roma” comment. Representatives for “Jeopardy!” haven’t commented on the controversy.