LeVar Burton Says He Realized the Jeopardy! Hosting Gig 'Wasn't the Thing' He Wanted 'After All'

·4 min read

LeVar Burton is more than okay with not becoming the new host of Jeopardy!

During an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Thursday, Burton opened up about his initial desire to become the next host of the popular game show after Alex Trebek's November 2020 death — and the support he received from fans after vocalizing his interest.

"We did a Kickstarter several years ago and I discovered then that the generation of adults who grew up on Reading Rainbow, they were down with whatever it is I wanted to do. And the same is true with this Jeopardy! thing," Burton, 64, said. "I made it public that I wanted it for myself, that it made sense to me. And they were all about it. It made as much sense to them as it did to me. So they wanted it for me as much as I wanted it."

Burton, however, was not tapped for the position. Jeopardy! producer Mike Richards was named as the new permanent host last month before he stepped down amid a series of scandals. Mayim Bialik and Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings will now split Jeopardy! hosting duties for the remainder of the game show's 38th season.

Burton said he has since come to terms with the fact that the hosting gig was not meant for him and is looking forward to new opportunities to come.

RELATED: RuPaul Jokingly Volunteers to Host Jeopardy! After Mike Richards Exit: 'I'm Right Here, B—!'

"The crazy thing is is that when you set your sights on something, they say, 'Be careful of what you wish for.' Because what I found out is that it wasn't the thing that I wanted after all," he said. "What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, right. But then when I didn't get it, it was like, 'Well, okay. Well, what's next?'"

He continued, "The opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn't have dreamt it up. I couldn't if you had given me a pen and paper and said, 'Well, so, what do you want this to really look like if it doesn't include Jeopardy!?' "

LeVar Burton attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California
LeVar Burton attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California

Ian Tuttle/Getty

After Noah suggested that Burton find a way to host a game show of his own, Burton said: "We are working on creating exactly what that is."

"The thing is, I never thought about hosting any other game show outside of Jeopardy! But now, having that they went in a different direction with their show, which is their right, and now I'm thinking, well, it does kind of make sense. Let me see what I can do," he added. "So, we're trying to figure out what [is] the right game show for LeVar Burton."

Following Trebek's death from pancreatic cancer, several stars — including Burton — were tapped to guest-host the series until they found a permanent replacement.

This image provided by Jeopardy Productions, Inc. shows "Jeopardy!" guest host LeVar Burton on the set of the game show
This image provided by Jeopardy Productions, Inc. shows "Jeopardy!" guest host LeVar Burton on the set of the game show

Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions LeVar Burton

"I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I've won," Burton, tweeted after hosting the show between July 26 to July 30. "The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible!"

"If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure," he added.

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Sony announced on Aug. 11 that Richards, 46, had been selected as the new permanent host of the daily syndicated game show, about nine months after the death of the beloved longtime host. Just over a week later, however, he told staffers in a memo obtained by PEOPLE that he was stepping down after disparaging comments he previously made about women and other marginalized groups resurfaced in a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014.

He apologized in a statement obtained by PEOPLE prior to the news of his exit, saying, "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."

He added: "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."

Richards was then ousted as the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, Suzanne Prete, the executive vice president of business and strategy for the two shows, announced in a letter sent to staff on Aug. 31.

Bialik will take over hosting duties starting Monday and running through Nov. 5.

After that, Bialik and Jennings — who as a contestant in 2004 went on an unprecedented 74-game victory streak worth $2.52 million — will split hosting duties as their schedules allow.

Episodes that were taped during Richards' nine-day tenure are airing this week.

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