From his first tweet about his dream job in 2013 to a celebrity-endorsed online petition to securing a coveted new guest-hosting spot.

Few people occupy the space that the late Alex Trebek, who died last year at the age of 80, inhabited. He became a beloved mainstay on our TV screens through Jeopardy, helping to shape and inform his viewership. But the same can be said of LeVar Burton, who will begin guest-hosting the game show Monday and remain at the podium through Friday.

Burton moved people with his role as Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries Roots, turned countless kids on to books through Reading Rainbow, and made an unforgettable contribution of sci-fi fan culture as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

He and Trebek have maintained similar cultural personas, so perhaps there's no better man to succeed the Jeopardy icon, who hosted the show for 37 years, even if Burton's post is temporary (for now), and even if he went on quite the journey to get to this point.

LeVar Burton on Jeopardy
LeVar Burton will serve as a guest host on 'Jeopardy' July 26 through July 30.
| Credit: Jeopardy! Productions

In May 2013, he made his "dream job" known to the Twitter-sphere: "The new Host of #Jeopardy," he wrote.

"I would totally watch this," one Twitter user replied. "I'm so voting for you," another added. The tweet garnered more and more responses like this, embedding the idea in our collective consciousness.

In September 2020, Burton tweeted again: "Not gonna lie, I feel like I've been preparing my whole life to occupy the @Jeopardy host podium when Alex retires."

Trebek had been discussing the prospect of retirement earlier in the year as he continued to update the public on his condition. The host had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, but he was determined to fight through it. He even said retirement wasn't in his near future.

Meanwhile, the call from Burton's fans — which included some of his colleagues and costars — to host the show never quelled.

One launched a petition that November, urging Jeopardy producers to eventually replace Trebek with Burton when the time came for him to step down. To date, that petition has amassed more than 257,000 signatures.

Burton himself responded, "Even if nothing comes from it, I can't tell how much [sic how] I appreciate all y'alls love and support!"

Burton later discussed his undying obsession to secure the gig in a 2021 interview with The New York Times Magazine. "It's difficult to explain, but there's something inside me that says this makes sense," he said. "I feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. I have been watching Jeopardy more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host."

He continued, "Jeopardy is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant. Look, I have had a career for the [expletive] ages. Roots, Star Trek, Reading Rainbow. Won a Grammy. Got a shelf full of Emmys. I'm a storyteller, and game shows are tremendous stories. There's a contest, there's comedy, there's drama. If you don't know your [expletive] on Jeopardy you're sunk in full view of the entire nation. The stakes are high. I love that."

Burton recently told EW, "I don't believe there is anyone out there who is better suited for this job than me. And I will go to my grave believing that. I think my whole career is an advertisement for being the host of Jeopardy."

On Nov. 8, 2020, days after the launch of the petition, Trebek died. As the public mourned the loss of an icon, the show went on. Jeopardy tapped its first roster of guest hosts to help fill an immense void, but those who've been campaigning for Burton to take the spot for years had only one name on their minds.

Brent Spiner, who played the android Data opposite Burton in Star Trek, joined the chorus, tweeting, "When is Jeopardy going to get it? The public wants @levarburton to host the show!"

Dick Van Dyke shared the online petition on Twitter, directing it at Sony Pictures Entertainment. Actress and Star Trek: Voyager alum Kate Mulgrew offered her own endorsement.

By the end of April 2021, it was official: Burton would join Jeopardy as a guest host, alongside names like Good Morning America co-anchors George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, former Celebrity Jeopardy winner David Faber, and sportscaster Joe Buck..

"THANK YOU… to all y'all for your passionate support!" Burton tweeted to his fans in response. "I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you [put] in me. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! Go ahead and take my word for it, this time."

While Burton is confirmed to host Jeopardy for just this week, he still has his sights set on occupying the podium permanently.

He told the ladies of The View in April that it remains his goal, but, "more than anything," he said, "I am eager to put my skills up against those of anyone else in contention and then let the chips fall where they may. The important thing for me is I have an opportunity to compete for the job, and that's all I ever really wanted."

Burton's episodes will air every night this week at 7 p.m. ET on ABC. Jeopardy will also match the total winnings of all its contestants and donate the funds to Reading Is Fundamental, a non-profit organization that supports children's literacy, for which Burton has been an advocate for years.

Burton hasn't shared much about what his episodes will entail, but he did tell EW that his hosting "was a phenomenal experience." After this week, we'll see if the producers agree.

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