This question is messed up.
The distributor needs to be the same version as the publisher
This statement is clearly wrong, as they don't have to be of the same version. It even quotes in the explanation:
For all types of replication, the Distributor version must be no earlier than the Publisher version.
The distributor needs to be on the highest version of SQL Server that participates in replication
This statement could be correct, unless there are other members of the replication procedure that can have a higher version then the distributor. Since none were named in the question, it should be considered correct.