‘Jeopardy!’: Why LeVar Burton Is One of the Favorites to Replace Alex Trebek

by Emily Morgan

Since the start of the year, viewers have seen all types of characters try their hand at guest-hosting “Jeopardy!” Various personalities have tried helming the legendary quiz show — from an NFL quarterback to “Jeopardy!” veterans. Now, LeVar Burton not only hopes to have a successful run behind the podium, but he also wants to be there full time. 

This week, the “Star Trek” actor will take his temporary spot on the sparkling set once lead for 37 seasons by the late Alex Trebek. Although his episodes have yet to air, some are already calling for the show to name him Trebek’s successor. 

Levar Burton Fan: ‘He’s Been Crucial in Forming Our Identities’

“If I was one of the other [potential] hosts, I’d be like, ‘I’m going to step aside and give it to the man who gave kids a love of reading,’ ” said L.D. Lewis, a 35-year-old who grew up watching Burton on “Reading Rainbow.” 

According to Lewis, some of her fondest memories include Burton. She remembers spending time with her father, watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the 1977 mini-series “Roots.”

“If you’re a bookish person, a sci-fi person, a history person — he’s been crucial in forming our identities,” Lewis told NPR. Lewis is just one of the thousands of fans who hope to see Burton claim his permanent (and to them, rightful) place behind the “Jeopardy!” podium. 

However, don’t take our word for it. If you’ll recall, there were more than a quarter of a million fan signatures on a still-active Change.org petition that began last November, calling to see the actor as the permanent host.

At the same time, 64-year-old Burton is also campaigning for the job, and there’s no denying he’s a top contender. 

As for his resume, the novelist, actor, and director has several Emmys, a Grammy, a Peabody, a prize for ethics from Case Western Reserve University, and a special honor for promoting literacy from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. 

Burton’s Lifelong Quest of Becoming ‘Jeopardy!’ Host

“It’s difficult to explain, but there’s something inside me that says this makes sense,” Burton told The New York Times in an interview in June. “I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I have been watching ‘Jeopardy!’ more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host.”

Additionally, Burton spoke to the iconic magnitude of the show, calling it a “cultural touchstone.” Moreso, for Burton, being the first Black man to occupy the podium is “significant.”

Although he’s had a career of a lifetime, Burton admitted to the Times it would be a tough blow not to get the “Jeopardy!” gig. “It will hurt. I’m not going to lie,” he confessed. “But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It’s all going to be OK.”