Back in the summer of 2021 the disappearance of Gabby Petito captured the attention of a horrified nation.
One week after her mother reported her missing, Petito’s remains were discovered at a campground in Wyoming.
The lifestyle vlogger, who had been traveling the country with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, was just 22 years old.
A nationwide manhunt for Laundrie ensued, coming to an end when the suspect’s skeletal remains were found in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
Medical examiners determined that Laundrie had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police later revealed that they discovered a written confession to Petito’s murder among Laundrie’s belongings.
Needless to say, viral news stories don’t get much more tragic than the sad saga of Gabby Petito.
So why did this case become fodder for a strangely lighthearted Celebrity Jeopardy clue?
Yes, viewers were taken aback this week when the Mayim Bialik-hosted Sunday night series casually referenced the horrifying Petit-Laundrie case.
“In 2021, fugitive Brian Laundrie ended his days in Fla’s Myakkahatchee Creek area, home to these long & toothy critters,” read the clue.
The answer was revealed as “What are alligators?”
For obvious reasons, viewers were appalled by the clue, with many calling it the most offensive moment in the show’s history.
“Not celebrity @jeopardy using Brian Laundrie as a clue for alligators.. that’s so distasteful and wrong could’ve used anything else for a clue,” one person tweeted, according to Page Six.
“This is the most tasteless and insensitive answer I’ve ever seen on any Jeopardy! What the hell were they thinking? Making light of that tragic situation is repugnant. Damn. #CelebrityJeopardy,” another added.
“THIS, this is beyond offensive. It’s appalling & completely insensitive, not to mention totally unnecessary. Shame on, @Jeopardy,” a third chimed in.
Others demanded answers and wanted to know how many people had to sign off on the decision to use such an oddly “edgy” clue on the long-running quiz show.
“What in the hell is wrong with you? Have you no soul? I can’t believe this question got past your lawyers,” one viewer tweeted.
“This is the most tasteless and insensitive answer I’ve ever seen on any Jeopardy!” another fumed, adding:
“What the hell were they thinking? Making light of that tragic situation is repugnant.”
Steve Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, revealed that his clients were similarly shocked.
“The entire Laundrie family is appalled and concurs with all of the comments on social media on how distasteful this was. I believe an apology is due,” Bertolino said in a statement issued this week.
“For this distasteful Jeopardy question to be posed only highlights the sensationalism that surrounded this tragedy and puts salt on the wounds of a family that has not been afforded any rights or privacy when the family themselves did nothing wrong,” the attorney added.
Many pointed out that it’s not uncommon for the show to base clues on real-life criminal cases.
But there’s a difference between quizzing players about the exploits of Al Capone and making a grim reference to the recent deaths of two young people.
The phrase “too soon” was coined for instances like this one, and it’s no surprise that Jeopardy fans are shocked.
Over the course of its decades on the air, the show has proven quite adept at avoiding this sort of controversy.
Hopefully, producers will take steps toward making amends sometime soon.