LeVar Burton Experienced ‘Humiliation’ After Failing to Land ‘Jeopardy!’ Hosting Gig

LeVar Burton (Credit: Newsy)

LeVar Burton thought he was a shoo-in to host Jeopardy! but when the job went to someone else, he said it was “sobering.”

Ahead of his debut as host of the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee, Burton sat down with Newsy to discuss his career and the controversy surrounding the selection of a new Jeopardy! host.

“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 Host Christian Bryant. “In the fullness of time, everything will be revealed. And like I said, it was I think in that first week of feeling really sort of not just disappointed, but wrecked. I didn’t expect that I would not be their choice for host.”

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Jeopardy! producers launched a lengthy search for a new face of the show following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek in November 2020.

Burton landed a fill-in slot on the trivia show after his fans launched a Change.org petition for him to replace Trebek. The petition gained nearly 300,000 signatures, but the job ended up going to then-Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards. Days later, Richards stepped down after a series of controversies and amid claims that the selection process was rigged.

Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and guest host Mayim Bialik were then tapped to lead the show.

Despite feeling disappointed when he didn’t get the job, Burton said appearing on the show opened many doors.

“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. So I think 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,” said Burton.

After appearing on Jeopardy!, the Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation was named Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade, and he’s been tapped to host and produce a new game show.

“It was a big lesson for me, just being willing to sit in the discomfort long enough to find out what was really supposed to happen for me,” Burton said.

You can watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals live on ION, on Thursday, June 2, at 8/7c

Check out Burton’s interview below.