Last fall, just a couple of months before Trebek’s death, the “Star Trek” and “Reading Rainbow” star expressed interest in hosting the beloved quiz show: “Not gonna lie, I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life to occupy the Jeopardy host podium when Alex retires,” he wrote on Twitter at the time.
From there, Burton became a fan favorite for the coveted “Jeopardy!” position. Nearly 300,000 “Jeopardy!” fans signed a petition for him to become the next host, which ultimately catapulted him to the “Jeopardy!” stage for a week’s worth of episodes in July.
“THANK YOU ... to all y’all for your passionate support!” Burton tweeted when “Jeopardy!” announced he would be a guest host earlier this year. “I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE!”
But now, as the dramatic quest for a permanent “Jeopardy!” host continues, Burton has said he is no longer interested in hosting.
“The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something … they say be careful of what you wish for, because what I found out is that it wasn’t the thing that I wanted after all,” the actor recently said on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” per Variety. “What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, right, but then, when I didn’t get it, it was, like ‘Well, OK, what’s next?’”
Initially, the hosting gig fell to Mike Richards, who at the time was the executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” When word got out that Richards was a front-runner for the position, Burton expressed gratitude for everyone who had joined him in his campaign.
“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won,” Burton tweeted in August. “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”
But several days later, following a string of controversies, Richards stepped down as host and was ultimately fired from his role as executive producer. In the meantime, neuroscientist and actress Mayim Bialik and “Jeopardy!” legend Ken Jennings are splitting hosting duties for the remainder of 2021 as the search for a permanent host continues.
I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) August 5, 2021
In a recent post on Twitter, Burton said, “I have a perspective on this entire J! saga which I intend to share at a time of my choosing, probably my memoirs.”
But overall, the actor is adamant that not getting the job ended up being somewhat of a blessing in disguise.
“The opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn’t have dreamt it up,” the actor said, according to Variety. “If you had given me a pen and paper and said, ‘Well, so what do you want this to really look like?’ If it doesn’t include ‘Jeopardy,’ I wouldn’t have been this generous to myself.”
During his appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Burton also teased the possibility of becoming a part of another game show.
“I never thought about hosting any other game show outside of ‘Jeopardy!’, but they went in a different direction with their show, which is their right,” he said, according to Deadline. “Now I’m thinking, well, it does kind of make sense. Let me see what I can do, so we’re trying to figure out what the right game show for LeVar Burton would be.”