LeVar Burton has publicly spoken out about how he felt humiliated and “wrecked” by the decision not to give him the role of host on Jeopardy!
Following the death of longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek from pancreatic cancer in 2020, his position was put up for grabs. Ken Jennings, Mike Richards, and Mayim Bialik had all been considered for the role, but many thought Roots star, LeVar Burton, was the frontrunner for a while.
Burton guest-hosted in July 2021, but sadly for the Star Trek actor, the show had already decided not to offer him a permanent position.
LeVar Burton spoke about his ‘public defeat’ over Jeopardy! host role
This week, Burton had a frank chat with Christian Bryant on In the Loop, where he explained that he had fully expected to get the job. He likened the experience to losing out as “a very public defeat, humiliation, if you will, [it] was sobering.”
Burton explained that Jeopardy! had been his favorite game show, and he had been watching since he was a child. He felt he was well “suited” for the role of host, so when he lost out, he felt not just disappointed but “wrecked.”
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. In the same week that Burton learned he would not be hosting Jeopardy! he got the call to host the 2022 Scripps Spelling Bee; he described this as “a huge balm on an open wound” and decided to “go where [he was] wanted.”
LeVar Burton is pleased things worked out after Jeopardy!
Burton says he now looks at the incident positively, explaining: “The doors have been opened. Windows have been opened. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, and I never would have experienced those things that I’m experiencing, like hosting the Scripps Spelling Bee, had I gotten that job.”
The actor also got a little philosophical, claiming that the experience reinforced his opinion that everything happens for a reason. He added: “[It was] a big lesson for me and just being willing to sit in the discomfort long enough to find out what was really supposed to happen for me around this game show thing.”
Meanwhile, Jeopardy! fans were treated to a mix of Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings over the latest season; however, last month, Jennings said he would be stepping down, leaving The Big Bang Theory actor Bialik as the sole presenter.