For a few shining months, Jeopardy fans around the world were buoyed by the idea that LeVar Burton would bring his epic knowledge, warmth, and years of hosting experience to the popular quiz show following Alex Trebek's death in 2020.
Ultimately, Burton didn't get the hosting gig, as the role went to former executive producer Mike Richards — and then, when Richards was ousted, to Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, who share duties. Now Burton is opening up about the controversy surrounding the search for a new Jeopardy host, admitting that he was "not just disappointed, but wrecked" by the outcome.
"Experiencing a very public defeat, humiliation, if you will, was sobering," Burton says in an interview with Newsy's In the Loop airing Wednesday. "And what I learned from the experience, really, is that it reinforced my belief that everything happens for a reason, even if you cannot discern the reason in the moment. In the fullness of time, everything will be revealed. And like I said, it was I think in that first week of feeling really sort of not just disappointed, but wrecked. I didn't expect that I would not be their choice for host."
Burton, who long hoped to succeed Trebek and taped a one-week stint as a Jeopardy guest host last summer, also intimates that he wasn't ever seriously considered for the full-time job.
"I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it," he says. "As it turns out, it really wasn't a competition, after all, the fix was in."
Representatives for Jeopardy didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment about Burton's remarks.
As for what Burton learned from the experience, he says, "I think it was a big lesson for me and just being willing to sit in the discomfort long enough to find out what was really supposed to happen for me around this game show thing."
The actor and former Reading Rainbow host, who's set to emcee the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, adds, "I'm a firm believer in betting on myself, and I would encourage anyone and everyone out there to to believe similarly in themselves. I'm always going to bet on me."
Burton's full interview will air Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on In the Loop. Watch a clip above.
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