LeVar Burton opens up about 'Jeopardy!' hosting snub: 'a humiliation if you will'

LeVar Burton attends Sir Patrick Stewart placing his handprints and footprints In cement at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on January 13, 2020 in Hollywood, California
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In a new interview, LeVar Burton opened up about losing the “Jeopardy!” hosting search that ran through 2021, after the November 2020 death of iconic host Alex Trebek.

Burton, currently hosting the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee, was explaining to Newsy’s “In the Loop” how he got the Spelling Bee gig when he suddenly let some deeper feelings spill out.

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Burton explained how Scripps asked him to host the Spelling Bee right around when he got some other not so great news.

“It happened in the same time frame,” said Burton, “if not the same week, that I was not named the host of the game show that shall not be named. And so to get the call from Scripps Spelling Bee about hosting this tournament was a huge balm on an open wound.”

He wasn’t done.

“I thought, ‘Ah, at least they see me. They see me, they see me,' he exclaimed. "I’m definitely one to go where I’m wanted, and loath to go where I’m not invited.”

Ouch.

“Jeopardy!” was Burton’s dream gig, as he told Newsy, “The truth is, it was my favorite game show. It really was,” he said. “I watched that show since I was in the third grade. I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it. As it turns out, it really wasn’t a competition after all. The fix was in.”

After he wasn’t chosen, he admitted, “Experiencing a very public defeat – a humiliation if you will – was sobering. I think it was 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."

Many fans thought Burton had the edge, but “the fix” Burton referred to is likely the fact the show gave the job to a producer who was already on staff. That controversy flamed up and out quickly, and Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik were soon named co-hosts – until a permanent host is named later this summer.

The flipside of Burton’s “Jeopardy!” loss has been fruitful for him, as he said to Newsy, “The phone hasn't stopped ringing."

Aside from hosting the Spelling Bee, he’ll soon be leading a new game show version of the classic board game, Trivial Pursuit.

“What I learned from the experience,” he concluded, “is really that it reinforced my belief that everything happens for a reason.”

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