On popular game show Jeopardy!, you have to be prepared for anything, but viewers were left stunned when one clue from Sunday’s episode referenced a real-life killing.
During the latest instalment of Celebrity Jeopardy, competitors John Michael Higgins, Wil Wheaton and Joel Kim Booster were presented a clue about the highly publicized murder of Gabby Petito by her then-fiancé Brian Laundrie.
The clue read: “In 2021, fugitive Brian Laundrie ended his days in Fla’s Myakkahatchee Creek area, home to these long & toothy critters.”
The answer, provided correctly by Fire Island actor Booster, was, “What are alligators?”
Almost instantly, outrage erupted on social media. Many called the Jeopardy! clue “distasteful,” “morbid” or in “poor taste.”
Petito was killed by Laundrie in September 2021. At the time, the couple was travelling the U.S. together in a van.
Her body was found on the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming after being strangled. Laundrie was the only person ever identified by law enforcement as a person of interest and was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The contrast between the cheerful façade on display on Petito’s widely followed Instagram account — where she chronicled her cross-country trip to tens of thousands of followers — and the darker reality of domestic violence she was experiencing in the lead-up to her death captivated millions and sparked an unprecedented national conversation about dating violence.
This month, Petito’s parents filed a US$50-million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department. The family is claiming officers who questioned Petito only weeks before she was killed by Laundrie were “fundamentally biased” and negligent in investigating claims of domestic violence.
Jeopardy! production has not publicly commented on the troubling answer or the ensuing backlash.