Hochul ‘pardons’ NYC Jeopardy! player Ben Walthall who couldn’t ID her

Gov. Kathy Hochul playfully pardoned a “Jeopardy!” contestant from Brooklyn on Friday — after he embarrassingly failed to identify her as New York’s first female governor on Wednesday’s show.

Ben Walthall made a surprise Zoom appearance during Hochul’s press briefing on her winter plan to combat the latest coronavirus surge.

“I believe in second chances,” Hochul quipped to Walthall, a Massachusetts native and NYU graduate who has lived in the city for the past 11 years.

Show host Ken Jennings had read the $2,000 clue to Walthall and two other contestants, saying, “In 2021, she became the first female governor of New York State.”

Neither reigning champ Amy Schneider, contestant Joanna Wu nor third player Walthall responded with the correct answer.

“Ben, that’s your governor! Kathy Hochul, her name!” Jennings jokingly chided the New York resident.

Hochul, the state’s former lieutenant governor, made national news over the summer when she succeeded disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid a series of sexual-misconduct allegations.

Hochul had made light of Walthall’s gaffe after the show aired Wednesday evening.

“Think I know the answer to this one, @Jeopardy!” Hochul tweeted.

Hochul offered Walthall a shot at redemption during Friday’s press event.

An unnamed gubernatorial staffer reread Walthall the clue — although with an accidental slip of the tongue.

Gov. Kathy Hochul playfully pardoned Brooklyn resident Ben Walthall on Friday — after he failed to identify her as New York’s first female governor.
Sony Pictures Television

“In 2021, she became the first female president … I mean the first female governor in New York state,” the staffer said.

Walthall replied, “Who is Kathy Hochul? Yes!”

Hochul said, “There you go, Ben! Thanks! Well played!”

Walthall, clearly trying to make amends for his goof, added, “I definitely know who you are now and think you have done a great job and definitely appreciate all you have done in terms of COVID.”

He noted that his girlfriend is a Brooklyn public-school teacher and applauded the governor’s effort to get students and teachers vaccinated and tested.

Walthall said he whiffed on the question because the segment had actually been filmed months before, shortly after Hochul took office.

“That’s part of the reason I may have sat out on that question,” he said.

Kathy Hochul had made light of Ben Walthall's mess up after the show aired this week.
Kathy Hochul had made light of Ben Walthall’s mess up after the show aired this week.

Walthall then showed his true colors — he’s a New England Patriots fan, the chief football-team rival of the Hochul-loving Buffalo Bills.

“I know you’re a Bills fan. But I have my Patriots slippers,” he told Hochul playfully, waving his footwear on the screen.

Hochul pulled out her Bills mask.

“Don’t worry about this question. I don’t have a long memory. We’re good,” Hochul chuckled.