‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Rally for LeVar Burton to Replace Ken Jennings

Since Alex Trebek died in November, Jeopardy! has seen reigning record-holder Ken Jennings stepping in has interim host. While it remains unclear what the search for a new host might look like, or if Ken Jennings will remain, some fans are making their voices heard — they want someone else. Jennings has a history of questionable tweets, and his recent endorsement of Bean Dad John Roderick has some fans wondering if he’s the right choice. Meanwhile, one group of Jeopardy! lovers has been calling for LeVar Burton to take up the mantle. 

Ken Jennings defends Bean Dad  

 Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame
Ken Jennings | Ron Batzdorff/ABC via Getty Images

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Bean Dad came to the forefront of 2021 rather swiftly. The individual in question, also known as John Roderick of The Long Winters, posted a lengthy story in which they watched their frustrated, hungry child struggle to open a can of beans for six hours. 

Roderick felt very smug about what he had done, calling it a “teaching moment” for his child. Roderick was widely panned, with netizens feeling annoyed with the self-satisfied father for not actually doing anything helpful for his nine-year-old. 

Roderick co-hosts a podcast with Ken Jennings, the current Jeopardy! win-streak champion. Jennings took to Twitter to defend Bean Dad. 

“Extremely jealous and annoyed that my podcast co-host is going to be a dictionary entry and I never will,” tweeted Jennings of the Bean Dad situation.

“If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. This site is so dumb,” he added. 

Ken Jennings apologized for old tweets

Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings | Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings defending John Roderick left a bad taste in some Twitter users’ mouths, given Jennings’ own history when it comes to controversial and insensitive tweets.

“Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair,” Jennings tweeted in 2014. Jennings also made a tweet poking fun at a terminally-ill man who died after seeing The Force Awakens, per one of his last wishes. 

“It can’t be a good sign that every fan who has seen the new Star Wars movie died shortly thereafter,” he wrote.

Jennings eventually apologized for his older, insensitive tweets. He suggested he leaves them up because he thinks removing them would be disingenuous. 

“It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn’t matter: I screwed up, and I’m truly sorry,” wrote the Jeopard! star in part.

‘Jeopardy!’ fans hoping to snag LeVar Burton

 LeVar Burton
LeVar Burton | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Already, some Jeopardy! fans were feeling dubious about Ken Jennings’ as interim host. They also felt he might be tapped to take over the role permanently, and because of his old tweets, they weren’t thrilled at the prospect. At that time, some fans started a petition to have LeVar Burton host the show.

Now, Jennings’ defense of Bean Dad has rekindled that dream for some Jeopardy! fans. A Change.org petition calling for LeVar Burton to host the show has over 110,000 signatures already. 

Burton addressed the petition in November 2019, which is gaining traction once more. 

“Of course while I’m very flattered by the petition, my thoughts are definitely with Alex Trebeck’s family and his millions of fans and the devastating loss of this irreplaceable legend,” Burton wrote at the time.