When American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 last week, he made history in more ways than one. In addition to becoming the most famous horse in the world, he also changed the closed captioning of one particular word forever: “Pharaoh.”
It was a popular news story when it first broke: how American Pharoah’s owners misspelled “Pharaoh,” on some official paperwork. There was an internet contest held to name the horse, and allegedly, the winning entrant was the one that spelled the name incorrectly. There’s some controversy surrounding the mistake, but regardless, the horse will forever be known as American Pharoah.
Since the horse has most likely reached Secretariat’s fame level, he will be referred to in the media for years to come. Our realtime captioners now must be extra careful when they phonetically write “Pharaoh,” (ancient Egyptian ruler, SNL cast member) or “Pharoah” (prize-winning horse) on their steno machines!
The combo will be added to every captioner’s list of homonyms requiring different keystroke combinations: hear/here, they’re/there/their, and Smith/Smyth. (There are a lot of NHL players with both names!) This will probably be a staple of sports captioning dictionaries for a very long time.
Our offline department is also affected by the spelling error! Any treatment sheet they create for programs referring to horse racing must always include American Pharoah.
Not only was the incorrect spelling trending on social media, but it was certainly “trending” here at VITAC as well! One seemingly tiny mistake has made a pretty big impact, at least when it comes to captioning!