LeVar Burton Says Not Being Selected to Host 'Jeopardy!' Was a "Humiliation"

Massive campaigning by fans and his own passion for the show weren't enough to get him the gig

Photo: Jeopardy!

BY Allie GregoryPublished Jun 3, 2022

LeVar Burton was recently tapped to host the Scripps National Spelling Bee — an offer that he says acted as a "huge balm on [the] open wound" of losing his Jeopardy! hosting gig.

Speaking with Newsy's Christian Bryant, the actor explained that he was offered the Spelling Bee position "in the same time frame, if not the same week," as finding out that he wasn't getting the Jeopardy! job, referring to the show scathingly as "game show that shall not be named."

When Bryant joked that they were giving Jeopardy! the "Voldemort routine" by not referring to it by name, Burton conceded that it was his favourite game show as a child, and though he thought he was a shoo-in for the hosting role, he hinted that he never stood a chance to move into the role permanently.

"I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it," Burton said. "As it turns out, it really wasn't a competition after all. The fix was in."

He added: "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."

He ended by saying that though he ultimately lost the job, his phone "hasn't stopped ringing," and that he never would have gotten the Spelling Bee job without that experience.

Following the death of former longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, Burton fans launched a petition called "Make LeVar Burton the next host of Jeopardy!" which was backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. He eventually did get the job temporarily, though some reason that his short run as host garnered poor ratings because of the Olympics airing at the same time. 

The Scripps Bee concluded yesterday, June 2. Fourteen-year-old Harini Logan was crowned champion after spelling 22 words correctly. 

Watch Burton's interview below.

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