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Burton kicked off his highly anticipated run as guest host of the quiz show on Monday, but the episode will go down in history for a less-than-stellar reason: The greatest negative score in "Jeopardy!" history was recorded.
"As a longtime viewer of the show, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to guest host ‘Jeopardy!’ And I’m proud to be here to honor Alex (Trebek’s) legacy," Burton said at the top of the episode, before promising that he's going to do his best "to ensure that these talented 'Jeopardy! contestants enjoy their moment here as well."
Contestant Patrick Pearce's experience was surely memorable, if not enjoyable. The product specialist from Fountain Valley, California, went on to finish Double Jeopardy! with -$7,400, breaking contestant Stephanie Hull's previous record of -$6,800 during a March 2015 appearance.
Pearce finished the first round of play with -$200, but he didn't fair better in Double Jeopardy! His score continued to trend downward after he missed a Daily Double.
And he didn't get a shot at redemption. Contestants who finish Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative number are eliminated before the final round of the game show.
"Unfortunately Patrick, you are in the negative and won’t be joining us for Final Jeopardy!” explained Burton.
Contestants Kathleen McHugh and Matt Amodio went head-to-head on Final Jeopardy! Amodio reigned victorious, bringing his four-day total to $122,400.
Best and worst 'Jeopardy!' guest hosts, from Robin Roberts to Savannah Guthrie
condolences to the new recordholder for worst day ever on Jeopardy, Patrick Pearce pic.twitter.com/JecMLYjQms
— Dan Kois (@dankois) July 27, 2021
After several "Jeopardy!" fans advocated on social media for Burton to take over as permanent host (an online petition has garnered more than 250,000 signatures since November), the actor finally got his chance to guest host through Friday.
Burton, known for his roles in "Roots" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," as well as host of "Reading Rainbow" for more than two decades, said on USA TODAY’s The Mothership podcast that he's "really, really, really" serious about wanting to take over as permanent host.
Contributing: Erin Jensen
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Jeopardy!' record negative score set on LeVar Burton's debut