'Jeopardy!' contestant confuses Chaka Khan with Shaka Zulu — and goes on to make show history

A Texas woman made history on Jeopardy! Monday night by becoming the first contestant on the long-running game show to explain how she wrote down the wrong question for the Final Jeopardy! round. But it’s Sarah Jett Rayburn’s other eyebrow-raising incorrect guess from the episode that is going viral.

During the show, the defending champion buzzed in for this $2,000 clue in the category tellingly marked “The Zulus,” as in the ethnic group from Southern Africa: “Here, as on each Sept. 24, Zulus celebrate a holiday that was named in honor of this warrior leader of the early 1800s.”

A Jeopardy! contestant confused Chaka Khan with the warrior Shaka Zulu. (Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

As an image of famed commander Shaka appeared, Jett Rayburn raced to tell host Alex Trebek something good. Her response, however, was wide off the mark.

“Who is Chaka Khan?” the writer and stay-at-home mom offered, referencing the Grammy-winning singer and “Queen of Funk” known for hits like “I Feel for You,” “I’m Every Woman” and, with the funk band Rufus, “Tell Me Something Good.” Born Yvette Marie Stevens, the 67-year-old music legend recently appeared as a contestant on The Masked Singer.

After Trebek shot back a firm “no” — and just before her competitor buzzed in with the correct response, “Who is Shaka Zulu?” — Jett Rayburn appeared to realize her gaffe, raising her arms in frustration.

Twitter, meanwhile, was in disbelief.

“The correct response from Alex is ‘I feel for you,’” joked one commenter.

At the end of the episode, Jett Rayburn pulled off a Jeopardy! first. Despite writing down “Who is Grant?” for the Final Jeopardy! answer about a general photographed with President Lincoln in 1862, the contestant told Trebek she suspected the correct response was “McClellan maybe?” — a reference to General George B. McClellan. After Trebek confirmed this as the right question, she spoke about second-guessing herself, and in doing so, became the first contestant to talk through her reasoning.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed something that never happens on our program and that is an explanation of why the contestant wrote down what they did," Trebek told the audience.

Despite her two infamous wrong guesses, Jett Rayburn went on to win the game.

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