‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Ends Up Viral After Awkward Answer

by Clayton Edwards

Getting on Jeopardy! isn’t an easy task. There are rounds of online tests as well as in-person auditions. Then, the few who make the cut are under a massive amount of pressure. Not only are they living their trivia dreams but they’re also up against stiff competition. At the same time, they’re on one of the most popular shows in the United States. So, contestants know that millions of people will see their answers whether they’re right or wrong.

Likewise, going viral can be a difficult thing to do. Countless people across the internet try and fail to become the next viral sensation every day. On the other hand, some people go viral without even trying. In fact, some people go viral and wish they hadn’t. Former Jeopardy! contestant Tom Imler knows all about that.

In April of 2015, Imler achieved his goal of competing on Jeopardy! and went viral with an incredibly awkward incorrect answer. The late great Alex Trebek read the prompt that would launch Imler to infamy. “In common law, the age of this, signaling adulthood, is presumed to be 14 in boys and 12 in girls,” which seems pretty innocuous. Then, Imler buzzed in and confidently answered, “What is the age of consent?” For those who are curious, the correct response was “What is puberty?”

Imler’s answer was wrong on so many levels and folks across the internet latched on to it. Within days, Imler’s Jeopardy! flub was racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Now, it’s making its rounds again.

Jeopardy! Contestant Speaks Out on Going Viral

Newsweek reprinted a bit of Imler’s interview about his viral status with the NY Daily News. In that interview, the Jeopardy! contestant said that he was worried about the real-world ramifications of the viral clip. “Holy cow. What if one day I come home from work and there’s a cop waiting outside my door,” he exclaimed.

Those worries stemmed from comments like “This guy is a pedophile,” “Somebody check his hard drive,”  and “Somebody check his basement.” Additionally, Imler put some of the blame on whoever wrote the question. “It was the wrong answer to a poorly-worded question.”

Imler had no idea that he had gone viral until a friend told him. In fact, the Jeopardy! contestant didn’t give the answer a second thought and was shocked that it exploded on the internet as quickly as it did. “All I thought was, ‘Darn, I got the wrong answer.’”

In the end, though, he made it to Jeopardy! and no amount of unkind comments could take that away from him. “It’s just utterly ridiculous. I decided I’m not going to let trolls ruin my accomplishment.”

That’s probably the best possible response to the backlash over what was, arguably, the worst possible response.