US game show contestant loses thousands of dollars for mispronouncing ‘gangsta’

You say "gangster", I say "gangsta"...

Jeopardy contestant

Sometimes the only thing standing between success and failure is the correct pronunciation of “gangsta”.


A contestant on the US game show Jeopardy lost out on $3,200 (£2,400) when he gave the name of Coolio’s 1995 hit song Gangsta’s Paradise as “Gangster’s Paradise”. It all came down to that crucial syllable.

In the “double jeopardy” round, contestant Nick Spicher was given a clue: “A song by Coolio from ‘Dangerous Minds’ goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic.”

He answered “What is Gangster’s Paradise Lost?” and was initially given the point – but not for long.

There was deliberation at the judges’ table as live gameplay continued, then a discussion between the producers, the writers, and the show’s independent third-party observers, and the answer came back: no money for Nick.

Jeopardy’s website explains: “Nick changed not only the song’s title, but also its meaning ­– making his response unacceptable.”

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “gangsta” and “gangster” are two different words with separate definitions:

Gangsta: [informal] A gang member; [mass noun] A type of rap music featuring aggressive macho lyrics, often with reference to gang violence.

Gangster: A member of a gang of violent criminals.


Poor Nick – perhaps he would do well to remember the wise words of Coolio: “Too much television watching, got me chasing dreams / I’m a educated fool with money on my mind.”