I’ll be honest—it’s pretty damn surreal to even be writing about this.
As you may know by now, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died at the age of 80 on Nov. 8, after battling stage four pancreatic cancer.
Any time feels “too soon” to be talking about a replacement host for the beloved game show, yet the conversation also seems inevitable. A few names have been thrown about, but recently (and most notably), fans started a Change.org petition to name LeVar Burton the host of Jeopardy!
The petition reads:
Between hosting 21 seasons of the educational Reading Rainbow, playing the brainiac engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: the Next Generation, and filling the roll of Kunta Kinte in the ever important mini-series Roots, LeVar Burton has inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds.
At the time of this post, the petition has over 55,000 signatures, with a 75,000 goal. As the petition is quickly gaining traction, Burton naturally became aware of it.
“Even if nothing comes from it, I can’t tell how much I appreciate all y’alls love and support!” Burton wrote in a tweet.
I know a sizable amount of fans would rather the show move on, which is completely understandable. I would also be fine with that, out of respect for Trebek. As for Trebek’s thoughts on the concept, Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards gave some insight.
“[Trebek] never mentioned names to us. He really wanted to be the host of the show, while he was the host of the show,” Richards revealed to ET. “So we didn’t say, ‘Hey, what about this person? What about that person?’ It was his show until he told us he was going to retire and, amazingly, he never did. I think that’s a blessing.”
However, the late legendary host did give pointers on what would be required of a good candidate.
“Typical Alex. He was self-deprecating [and] said, ‘It’s not that hard.’” Richards added.
Trebek’s wife Jean also took to Twitter to share her gratitude for the love and support her husband has received.
“My family and I sincerely thank you all for your compassionate messages and generosity,” Mrs. Trebek posted on Instagram alongside one of the couple’s wedding photos. “Your expressions have truly touched our hearts. Thank you so very, very much.”
Again, Trebek is obviously irreplaceable. Still, if that new host conversation is seriously being had, I couldn’t think of a better candidate than Burton. Plus, we already know Burton can bring the side-eyes and shade (shout-out to the iconic disappointed stare Trebek gave to the contestant who missed a Megan Thee Stallion question), so that tradition will remain!
Ever the class-act, Burton added a tweet expressing the significance of such a great loss to Trebek’s family and fans around the world.
“Of course while I’m very flattered by the petition, my thoughts are definitely with Alex Trebek’s family and his millions of fans and the devastating loss of this irreplaceable legend,” Burton tweeted.
The Root has reached out to Sony Pictures Entertainment for comment on this matter.