‘Jeopardy!’: LeVar Burton’s Week as Guest Host Won Big Bucks for His Charity of Choice

Actor LeVar Burton may have only hosted five games on Jeopardy!, but the guest host couldn’t have been more pleased with the resulting donated funds going to his charity of choice, Reading Is Fundamental.

Here’s more on how much the nonprofit will receive, as well as how Burton said hosting Jeopardy! ranks up there with his wedding day.

Wearing a suit and print tie, LeVar Burton smiles while guest anchoring on 'CBS This Morning.'
LeVar Burton while guest anchoring ‘CBS This Morning’ in May 2021 | Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images

Burton was the longtime host of ‘Reading Rainbow’

The actor and television personality, to many children of the 1980s, ’90s, and the early 2000s, will always be known as the man who taught them to love reading and in some instances introduced them to books. His program Reading Rainbow started in 1983 and ran for nearly 25 years on PBS, behind Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in terms of longevity.

With no flash or special effects, Burton deftly explored on each episode of the children’s show a picture book as well as a theme relevant to kids. While it was canceled in 2006, the beloved program continued in reruns until 2009. The series, Burton told NPR, was impactful to generations of children.

“When the idea was presented to me: ‘Let’s take a half an hour on television during the summer months while kids are on summer vacation and create a television show that brings the child back to the world of the written word,’ it just made so much sense to me,” Burton recalled. “It was the perfect use of this very powerful medium, I thought.”

The actor raised money for Reading Is Fundamental

And now on Jeopardy!, Burton for his guest hosting stretch chose Reading Is Fundamental as his charity, unsurprisingly reflecting his passion and dedication to reading.

During his five-game hosting run, the game show reported on Instagram that a whopping $204,800 would be donated to the literacy organization. That’s more than other guest hosts raised during two-weeks of games, and likely thanks in great part to current Jeopardy! champ Matt Amodio who’s won nearly $300,00 during his eight-day winning streak.

“An impressive total of $204,800 donated to @readingisfundamental, thanks to @levar.burton’s appearance,” Jeopardy!‘s post said.

For his part, Burton expressed his gratitude for the chance to host the show that he grew up watching.

“So grateful and humbled,” he tweeted. “Thank you everyone for this opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you to the folks at Jeopardy! and the Sony team and to the contestants. What a week!”

Burton compared hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ to his wedding day

Keep in mind that the actor and podcaster (if you guessed that his podcast is all about reading, you guessed right) taped all five of his games in one day. As he told Entertainment Weekly, that one day was pretty similar to the day he got married in shaking his nerves up.

“As I sit here and think about it, [taping Jeopardy!] was a lot like my wedding day,” he said. “It was a blur. It all happened so fast. There are snapshots that I have throughout the course of the day, moments that I remember. But it all went down flash-bang.”

If he could, Burton said, he would approach it a bit differently.

“I see the adrenaline in my body, I hear it in my voice, and I see it in my delivery,” the Star Trek actor said. “I’d just like to go back, take a deep breath, and start all over again.”

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