What’s the difference between a gangster and a gangsta? On a popular television game show, it’s $3,200.
“Jeopardy!” contestant Nick Spicher found out the hard way. During an episode which aired Monday, he used the wrong word with his question about Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the rapper’s hit song for “Dangerous Minds,” a 1995 movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
The answer in the category “Music & Literature Before & After”: “A song by Coolio from ‘Dangerous Minds’ goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Spicher’s question: “What is Gangster’s Paradise Lost?” – a combination of Coolio’s song and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” poem. It was initially ruled correct, earning Spicher $1,600.
The prize was short-lived. Host Alex Trebek later announced that the judges ruled Spicher’s incorrect because he used “gangster” instead of “gangsta” in his response.
The show’s judges explained why the money was taken away on its website, noting that the two words are unique in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Despite the loss in winnings, the museum educator from Everett, Wash., left as the day’s champion, winning $15,201. He would lose the next day, finishing second to Saralee Etter, a writer from Pataskala, Ohio.
While the judges ruled against him, the rapper said he likely would not have.
In an interview Tuesday with TMZ, Coolio said he “probably would have gave it to him” but served notice to white people: “The E-R will always get you in trouble.”
Spicher explained his side of things on his Twitter page, saying he hopes “it blows over soon” and telling everyone to “stay gangsta.”