LeVar Burton Says He 'Won' No Matter the Outcome of New Jeopardy! Host: 'I Am Truly Blessed'
LeVar Burton will be happy no matter who gets the Jeopardy! hosting gig.
The Reading Rainbow star, who guest hosted the long-running syndicated game show from July 26 to July 30, has openly talked about Jeopardy! being his dream job. But on Thursday, he spoke out about fan's disappointment that he might not land the role, after a Variety report stated that Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is production's top contender to step into the late Alex Trebek's shoes.
"I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I've won," Burton, 64, tweeted.
"The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible!" he added. "If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure. ."
Variety's report on Wednesday claimed that Richards is in advanced negotiations with Sony Pictures Television to become the new game host, although a spokesperson said other candidates are still in the running.
Burton has hosted PBS children's series Reading Rainbow for more than 23 years, and has been campaigning to replace Trebek since the late star's death.
Last November, he tweeted out a link in support of a Change.org campaign seeking to make him the next Jeopardy! host. The petition currently boasts more than 260,000 supporters, including Dick Van Dyke.
"It feels like, 'Wow, they really are behind me,'" Burton told Entertainment Weekly in April of fans' support. "They want this for me as much as I want it for me, I believe, because it makes so much sense to them too."
Ahead of his guest-hosting debut episode, the Emmy winner spoke about the pressure he felt going into filming the hit trivia show.
"For me, my standard of excellence is so intense that my initial approach was to try and be as good as Alex was. Of course, I realized right away that that was an impossibility," Burton said on Good Morning America. "The man had 37 years to perfect his mastery."
"This is what I've been doing my entire career. For 45 years, I've tried to use the medium of television to do more than simply entertain," he continued. "I know that we have the opportunity when we do it with consciousness to inform, to enlighten, to educate, to even uplift ourselves with the stories we tell one another. And I see Jeopardy! as absolutely [being] in the sweet spot of that Venn diagram."
Burton admitted that initially, he tried to take on Trebek's persona before his wife critiqued him for not being himself.
"I got the heads up from Steph, I just went out there and tried to bring as much LeVar to the moment as a possibly could," he said on Good Morning America. "And I'm hoping that that worked out better."
In June, Burton told The New York Times he felt like becoming the full-time host of Jeopardy! is something he feels he's "supposed to do."
"I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant," the superfan said.
The longtime television personality added, "Look, I have had a career for the [expletive] ages. Roots, Star Trek, Reading Rainbow. Won a Grammy. Got a shelf full of Emmys. I'm a storyteller, and game shows are tremendous stories. There's a contest, there's comedy, there's drama. If you don't know your [expletive] on Jeopardy!, you're sunk in full view of the entire nation. The stakes are high. I love that."
He also admitted at the time that he would be a bit "hurt" if he did not receive the offer.
"It will hurt. I'm not going to lie," Burton said. "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. Because it always is."
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Currently, CNBC journalist David Faber is guest-hosting Jeopardy! and next week, sportscaster Joe Buck takes the podium.