65-Year-Old LeVar Burton Sparks Controversy, Says ‘Jeopardy’ Gig Was “Fixed”

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levar burton in front of jeopardy screen

Credit: ABC

When longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, 80, passed away after a long battle with cancer on November 8, 2020, fans of the game show were devastated. The biggest question for viewers and contestants, of course, was who would fill Trebek’s shoes as the new host.

alex trebek in front of jeopardy board
Credit: ABC

Related: ‘Jeopardy’ Champion James Holzhauer Calls Out Fan’s “Horrifying” Tweet

Following months of guest hosts including Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton, Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik, and former champions like Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen, Bialik landed the job following controversy involving former Jeopardy! producer Mike Richardson.

Bialik has faced her own minor controversies, including fans’ frustration at her use of the term “Single Jeopardy” to describe the first round of the show — “Double Jeopardy” has long been the name of the second round — and requests from producers to “tone it down” when dealing with contestants.

mayim bialik holding final jeopardy card
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Related: ‘Jeopardy’ Contestants Stumped By Popular Disney Parks Question

Bialik’s tenure on the long-running game show has already given rise to some popular champions, including Amy Schneider, who won 40 games, and recent champion, Mattea Roach, who broke the win streak record for a Canadian contestant.

Now, however, one guest host, 65-year-old Burton, is speaking out about not landing the Jeopardy gig. The Star Trek: The Next Generation alum referred to producers’ decision to go with Bialik as a “public defeat.”

levar burton at jeopardy podium
Credit: ABC

Related: Disney Blockbuster ‘Encanto’ Gets the ‘Jeopardy’ Treatment

Speaking on the “In the Loop” podcast, Burton said:

“Experiencing a very public defeat — humiliation, if you will — was sobering. 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.”

He went on to share that he “didn’t expect” Bialik to be selected and that he believes the entire competition was “fixed”:

“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,” Burton continued. “I didn’t expect that I would not be their choice for host…”

“…The truth is it was my favorite game show. It really was. I mean, I watched that show since I was in the third grade and Art Fleming was the host. And I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it. As it turns out, it really wasn’t a competition, after all — the fix was in.”

levar burton with jeopardy logo screen
Credit: ABC

Related: 14 Years Later, Joe Jonas Says “Disney Channel Games Here I Come”

Many Jeopardy fans are not thrilled with Burton’s comments. Twitter user Chris responded to a post that the hosting decision was made based on race by writing:

Seriously? I watch Jeopardy. Love Levar Burton. Was so happy he got a shot after initially not being invited to guest host. I couldn’t make it through half an episode of his hosting. Just wasn’t his forte. Not everything is about race.

Another Jeopardy fan agreed, posting:

LeVar Burton says he was wrecked about Jeopardy Controversy claimed he would’ve been a great Host

I watched LeVar Burton’ s Hosting Jeopardy & as 38 years fan who watched between work years & now retirement you were unprepared & stank up the place. Honesty is the best policy!

No matter where you land on Burton’s recent comments, there’s a lot to look forward to for Jeopardy viewers in the coming months.

Joining the ranks of shows like Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and Celebrity Family Feud, the first-ever Jeopardy spinoff that will air independently of the normal program was confirmed during the 2022 Upfronts in New York City. An official Tweet reads:

It’s official: Celebrity Jeopardy! is coming to @ABC! Join us Sunday evenings this fall

Related: Pat Sajak Walks Off ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Set Mid-Air, Shocking Fans

Furthermore, the series is set to have a brand new tournament later this year, as well.

Executive Producer Michael Davies previously confirmed the Second Chance Tournament on the show’s official blog. Davies shared that he “started thinking about a Second Chance Tournament almost the day I started on Jeopardy!, when Jessica Stephens beat Matt Amodio, but lost to Jonathan Fisher by just $401.”

jessica stephens losing jeopardy
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Related: Recent ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Makes Major Change To Reveal Her True Self

He went on to write:

…we’re actually going to do it, and slot it in right before the ToC. More details to follow, including the criteria we will be using to select the rest of the participants. To be clear, though, the eligibility time frame will be the same as for this year’s ToC: We are looking at contestants who appeared on Jeopardy! since the last Tournament of Champions who we believe deserve a second shot.

ken jennings jeopardy guest host
Credit: ABC

Related: Vanna White Breaks Down, Cries On Set of ‘Wheel Of Fortune’

It is worth noting that Bialik’s future at the Jeopardy podium is unknown at this time, however, as Ken Jennings’s recent exit from The Chase has many viewers convinced that he will be taking over full-time hosting duties next season.

What do you think about LeVar Burton’s Jeopardy comments?

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