Nearly a year after making an unsuccessful play at becoming the permanent host of Jeopardy!, LeVar Burton is speaking out. And he’s admitting that he took the letdown much harder than we thought.
“Experiencing a very public defeat, humiliation, if you will, was sobering,” he said in an interview with Newsy’s In the Loop that airs Wednesday.
For a few months last summer, fans of the long-running quiz show believed that Burton would take over hosting duties for the late Alex Trebek. The Star Trek alum even proved himself worthy by standing behind the famed podium as a guest host for five episodes.
But he took a shocking blow when the series placed former executive producer Mike Richards in the role instead. Ultimately, Richards lost his spot after a scandal broke out in August of 2021. And when he did, Jeopardy! once again passed over LeVar Burton for Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings.
However, Burton took the rejection gracefully. He never once spoke against the show or brought drama into the already heavy situation. He simply moved forward with his life. But in private, the actor took the decision hard. And during his interview, he admitted that he was “not just disappointed, but wrecked” by the outcome.
LeVar Burton Needed to ‘Sit in the Discomfort’ of the ‘Jeopardy!’ Snub
What was perhaps more devastating for Burton was finding out that Jeopardy! strung him along the entire time. While he and the rest of the world believed he stood a solid chance at the job, the show had other plans. And the producers weren’t forthright with him.
“I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it,” he admitted. “As it turns out, it really wasn’t a competition, after all, the fix was in.”
Luckily, LeVar Burton has moved forward from the situation and found other projects that are more suited for him. For example, the former Reading Rainbow lead has taken the directing chair for series such as NCIS: Hawai’i. And now he can look back at the snub with a different perspective.
“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. In the fullness of time, everything will be revealed,” Burton shared. “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.”
“I think it was a big lesson for me,” he added, “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.”
Watch Burton’s entire interview this Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on In the Loop.