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‘Be Careful of What You Wish For’: Why LeVar Burton No Longer Wants to Host ‘Jeopardy!’

LeVar Burton has moved on from his “Jeopardy!” hosting aspirations.

Following the passing of the show’s host Alex Trebek in 2020, the “Reading Rainbow” host became a fan favorite candidate for the position but was passed over when “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards appointed himself to the job. Richards didn’t even have time to step into his new role before being forced to step down after old podcast episodes featuring the host making sexist and disparaging remarks about women, Asians, and Jews.

Actor and 1995 Celebrity “Jeopardy” champion LeVar Burton. Photo @levar.burton/Instagram)

Burton campaigned for the job because in his eyes “it made sense” and at the time he wanted the gig just as much as his fans wanted it for him. “I made it public that I wanted it for myself. That it made sense to me, and [fans who grew up on “Reading Rainbow”] were all about it.” Burton explained to host Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” on Sept. 16. “It made as much sense to them as it did to me. So they wanted it for me as much as I wanted it.”

It was speculated that Burton was never even considered for the job because Sony executives “didn’t think he was the right fit.” After dealing with the ups and downs that the search for the permanent quiz show host has brought, the “Star Trek” actor is moving on.

“The crazy thing 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,” Burton 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, OK, what’s next?'”

“Jeopardy!” has helped Burton in a way he didn’t expect, opening doors that the star didn’t even see for himself. “The opportunities that have come my way as a result of not getting that gig, I couldn’t have dreamt it up,” he said. “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!”’ I wouldn’t have been this generous to myself.”

LeVar Burton guest-hosted Jeopardy July 26-30. @levar.burton/Instagram

Noah compared the closing of the “Jeopardy!” door to “the shipwreck that leads you to the magical island,” and Burton wholeheartedly agreed adding, “The island is where you were meant to be all along.”

Some of the actor’s aforementioned “opportunities” on his “magical island” that fans can look forward to include audiobook recordings, a “Reading Rainbow” documentary, and a voice acting role in the upcoming CW series “Tom Swift,” to name a few.

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