LeVar Burton just opened up about not being chosen as the host of ABC’s Jeopardy!, calling it a “public humiliation.”
The actor, who is hosting this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, spoke with Newsy’s In The Loop about the game show hosting gig. During the conversation, Burton shared that he was “wrecked” after learning that he wasn’t selected as one of two Jeopardy! co-hosts.
Although he lost out on hosting his “favorite game show,” Burton went on to share the silver lining in it all, which included being named the host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
LeVar Burton thought he was a shoo-in for the 'Jeopardy' hosting gig
“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,” Burton said. “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.”
After he wasn’t chosen, the former Reading Rainbow host said he experienced “a very public defeat, humiliation, if you will,” which he found to be “sobering.”
“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 landed the Scripps National Spelling Bee gig around the same time he lost out on hosting 'Jeopardy!'
In a clip from the interview with Newsy’s “In the Loop”, which airs June 1 at 9 p.m. ET on Newsy, Burton revealed that he was contacted about hosting the Scripps National Spelling Bee around the same time he was not selected as one of two new faces of Jeopardy!.
“Well, it happened in the same timeframe, if not the same week, that I was not named the host of the game-show-that-shall-not-be-named,” he said. “And so to get the call from the Scripps Spelling Bee about hosting this tournament was a huge balm on an open wound. And I thought, ‘Oh, well, at least they see me, they see me, they see me.’ And, you know, I’m definitely one to go where I’m wanted and loathe to go where I’m not invited.”
The actor walked away from that experience believing that everything happens for a reason.
“The doors have been opened. Windows have been opened. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, and I never would have experienced those things that I’m experiencing, like hosting the Scripps Spelling Bee, had I gotten that job,” Burton expressed. “So 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.”
Thanks to that experience, Burton was able to walk away having learned a very valuable life lesson.
“Well, there are a lot and I, I believe I’m still mining some of the takeaways from that experience,” he said. “First and foremost, 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.”