When Alex Trebek passed away in 2020, he left a huge vacuum. In the year following, Jeopardy! producers scrambled to replace the iconic host. One of the early names that came up was LeVar Burton, beloved host of Reading Rainbow and celebrated actor. However, fans were left disappointed when his guest-hosting stint was cut short.
LeVar Burton Speaks Out On ‘Jeopardy!’ Controversy
LeVar Burton was a fan favorite choice to fill Alex Trebek’s shoes on Jeopardy!. Burton was quickly tapped for a guest-hosting stint, and plenty of fans hoped he was in it for the long haul. However, very shortly after taking up the position, Burton was passed over for the permanent hosting gig.
Instead, executive producer Mike Richards took up the role. He only held the position for a couple of months before he resigned in response to re-surfaced sexist comments and harassment complaints. As it turns out, Burton’s successor wasn’t meant to be either.
In their place, former champ Ken Jennings and The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik began sharing host duties. The arrangement was solid, and they were recently made permanent co-hosts. Now, Burton is finally revealing how he felt about the whole ordeal.
“Experiencing a very public defeat—humiliation, if you will—was sobering. And what I learned from the experience, really, is that it reinforced my belief that everything happens for a reason, even if you cannot discern the reason in the moment,” Burton told Newsy earlier this year.
‘I’ll Always Bet On Myself’
Burton has maintained a positive outlook, but during a Q&A panel in Portland, Oregon this past weekend, he implied that the game was fixed against him.
“Jeopardy! hired the hosts that they wanted, so it’s all good,” Burton responded when asked about the show. “I’ll always bet on myself, and given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would.” Then he alluded to something interesting.
“Well, first, I would not believe the executive producer when he told me twice that he was not interested in the job; his job was to find someone to do the job. That’s the guy who gave himself the job,” Burton asserted. While he didn’t reference Mike Richards by name, it’s clear he was talking about the disgraced host.
“So if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t trust him,” Burton continued. “But I would insist on knowing that this was a real audition for the job because that’s what I thought I was asking for.”
The Star Trek: The Next Generation star also noted feeling like he was “pulled into a publicity stunt,” before adding, “I went in willingly. I own my actions 100%. I just wish they had been more forthcoming at the beginning.”
As for the show itself, Burton still says it was a life-long dream of his that he was so happy to fulfill, but his future is shining bright. As a result of being passed over by Jeopardy!, Burton went on to host the Scripps National Spelling Bee and partnered with Hasbro to create a game-show adaption of Trivial Pursuit.