LeVar Burton Says ‘the Fix Was Always in’ Against Him at Jeopardy!

This beloved childhood reading icon also hosts a podcast narrating short ficton. Answer? Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Disgraced Jeopardy! executive producer and erstwhile host Mike Richards has generated enough bad news to fuel an entire category of trivia questions: “Richards pissed off this luxury brand when he used their products as game show prizes against their wishes.” (What is Ralph Lauren?) “Richards made sexist, racist, and antisemitic jokes on this audio format.” (What is podcast?) And on June 1, LeVar Burton gave us more reason to be suspicious of the man.

Burton tells The Ringer that when he first called Jeopardy! to express his wishes to take over the hosting gig after Alex Trebek’s death in 2021, Richards later said “that he didn’t believe me.” “He didn’t sense in that call my passion,” Burton said. For someone charged with making big decisions for a legacy brand, Richards must either be a terrible read of character or a pretty bad liar; Burton has been tweeting about his desire to be Jeopardy! host for nearly a decade. Burton goes on to say Richards told him “that he was not interested in the job, that it was his job to help them find the right person for this job. He said that twice.” We now know this to be a lie, as Richards appears to have been cuing himself up for the Jeopardy! hosting gig for years. “The fix was always in,” says Burton. The Reading Rainbow host also says that when he finally got the guest-hosting gig last summer, he was set up to fail, as his run aired opposite the Olympics and executive producers didn’t offer him any constructive feedback.

Burton got the last laugh in the interview, though, consistently getting Richards’s name wrong, calling him “Richard Smith” and “Mike Smith.” Messing up his name won’t win Burton any points in bad-man Jeopardy!, but it’s pretty funny.

LeVar Burton Says ‘the Fix Was Always in’ for Jeopardy! Host