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Ken Jennings catches heat for wheelchair tweet

Ken Jennings, seen in January, has a history

Ken Jennings, seen in January, has a history of posting tweets that cause controversy. Credit: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

"Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings, who will serve as the first interim guest host of the venerable game show following the Nov. 8 death of Alex Trebek, has finally removed a 2014 tweet that for a second time has sparked controversy for making light of those in wheelchairs.

"Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair," read the tweet, which was taken down midafternoon Wednesday. While it previously elicited ire in 2018, commenters on Tuesday scolded the 46-year-old Jennings anew.

"Nothing sadder than an ableist on twitter," wrote one, using a term for discrimination against people with disabilities. "I walk with a cane am I sad too? Sorry to make you sad, Ken," wrote another. An attractive young woman in a wheelchair posted a selfie and tweeted, "Hot and happy as [expletive] in a Wheelchair."

One person pointed out: "There's a rule of thumb about punching down in comedy, & how you generally shouldn't do it. Are there exceptions? Maybe, but this sure … isn't one of them." Another wrote, "Hey dude this is Real Bad and you should delete and apologize. Plenty of other people have put this more eloquently than I have. Please listen to them."

In 2018, while responding to a comment castigating him for retaining the 2014 posting, Jennings tweeted, "I never did a public flogging thing for this but I did apologize personally to angry/hurt people who reached out personally. it was a joke so inept that it meant something very different in my head & I regret the ableist plain reading of it!"

Neither Jennings nor "Jeopardy!" production company Sony Pictures Entertainment has commented publicly about this latest contretemps.

Jennings' tweets have previously generated controversy such as in 2015, following the cancer death of "Star Wars" superfan Daniel Fleetwood, whose dying wish to see "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was granted by filmmaker J.J. Abrams and studio Disney. Jennings tweeted, "It can't be a good sign that every fan who has seen the new Star Wars movie died shortly thereafter." That tweet remained up Wednesday afternoon.

Another controversial tweet, in which Jennings in 2017 appeared to make fun of then-11-year-old Barron Trump, son of President Donald Trump, has been removed, though a Wayback Machine archive shows it was live as of at least Nov. 19.

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