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LeVar Burton has made his hosting debut on Jeopardy!
After thousands of fans lobbied online for the former Reading Rainbow host and Star Trek: The Next Generation actor to replace the late Alex Trebek, Burton was announced in the lineup of guest hosts, which have also included Aaron Rodgers, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos.
Following the announcement that he would take on hosting duties, Burton tweeted in response to the support from the Change.org petition: “I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! Go ahead and take my word for it, this time.”
When Burton took the Jeopardy! stage Monday night, he continued to express his thanks and gratitude. “As a longtime viewer of the show, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to guest-host Jeopardy! And I’m proud to be here to honor Alex’s legacy, and I’m gonna do my best to ensure that these talented Jeopardy! contestants enjoy their moment here as well,” he said before kicking off the game with contestants.
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) July 26, 2021
Ahead of his debut Monday night, Burton has been vocal about his dream of hosting the long-running game show. In 2013, Burton revealed that his “dream job” would be to host. He’s also later tweeted, “Not gonna lie, I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life to occupy the @Jeopardy host podium when Alex retires.”
In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, Burton explained that taking on hosting duties is something he feels “makes sense.” “I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do,” he said, explaining that it would mark a “significant” moment for “a Black man to occupy that podium.”
When speaking on Good Morning America ahead of Monday night’s broadcast, Burton admitted that his “standard of excellence is so intense” and his initial approach to hosting was to “try and be good as Alex [Trebek] was.” However, he says, “that was an impossibility. … The man had 37 years to perfect his mastery,” he said before adding that his wife was transparent about her thoughts after watching his first taping. “She said, ‘Eh, it wasn’t you.’ … Thank God for marrying a woman who will tell you the truth!” He said after hearing his wife’s input, going forward he just “tried to bring as much LeVar to the moment [as possible].”
Burton’s anticipated episodes will air every night this week from July 26-30. The game show also announced that it will match the total winnings of all its contestants and donate the funds to the nonprofit Burton has been an advocate for called Reading Is Fundamental, which supports children’s literacy.
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