Following the death of long-time host Alex Trebek in 2020, the Reading Rainbow star was in the running to be chosen as Jeopardy!'s replacement host. The role ultimately went to former executive producer Mike Richards—who was fired after allegations of sexist comments—and then to Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings.
Now, the author is opening up about not being chosen for the position, revealing that he was "not just disappointed, but wrecked."
"Experiencing a very public defeat, humiliation, if you will, was sobering," Burton told Newsy's In the Loop in an interview. "I didn't expect that I would not be their choice for host."
Part of the hurt had to do with the fact Jeopardy! was Burton's "favorite game show" that he had watched since he was a kid. "I honestly thought that I was well-suited for it," he says. "As it turns out, it really wasn't a competition, after all, the fix was in."
Jeopardy! did not respond to E! News' request for comment.
But while it was upsetting to not be chosen, another opportunity was right around the corner.
Burton shared that during "the same time-frame, if not the same week," as the Jeopardy! news, he was asked to host the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
"To get the call about hosting this tournament was huge balm on an open wound," Burton said. "And I thought ‘ah, they see me,' and I'm definitely one to go where I'm wanted and loathe to go where I'm not invited."
Burton says the situation taught him an age-old lesson.
"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," he explained. "In the fullness of time, everything will be revealed."
Watch The 2022 Scripps Spelling Bee when it airs June 2.