We previously characterized a foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) with three amino acid replacements in its polymerase (3D) that conferred resistance to the mutagenic nucleoside analogue ribavirin. Here we show that passage of this mutant in the presence of high ribavirin concentrations resulted in selection of viruses with the additional replacement I248T in 2C. This 2C substitution alone (even in the absence of replacements in 3D) increased FMDV fitness mainly in the presence of ribavirin, prevented an incorporation bias in favor of A and U associated with ribavirin mutagenesis, and conferred the ATPase activity of 2C decreased sensitivity to ribavirin-triphosphate. Since in previous studies we described that 2C with I248T was selected under different selective pressures, this replacement qualifies as a joker substitution in FMDV evolution. The results have identified a role of 2C in nucleotide incorporation, and have unveiled a new polymerase-independent mechanism of virus escape to lethal mutagenesis.