LeVar Burton made his Jeopardy! guest hosting debut Monday night, though the evening did not go off without a hitch. As Burton took the stage as the latest guest to fill the shoes left vacant by the late Alex Trebek, who passed away in November from pancreatic cancer, the Reading Rainbow host and Star Trek: The Next Generation actor made a glaring $600 error.
The mishap came after Burton read the clue, “Overthrown by the U.S., this Panamanian dictator was convicted in Miami of federal drug and racketeering charges in 1992.” When contestant Matt Amodio of New Haven, Connecticut stumbled with his answer, stating, “What’s…uh…Noriega,” Burton incorrectly said he was “wrong” rather than specifying Amodio ran out of time. The second contestant, Kathleen McHugh, incorrectly answered “Who is Samosa,” bringing her $0 total to -$600. Patrick Pearce, meanwhile, correctly answered Manuel Noriega within the allotted answering time.
When the show came back from commercial break, Burton has to correct his mistake. Speaking to McHugh, who is from Detroit, he teased that they had “some good news” for her. Burton explained that when he “ruled Matt wrong on the Noriega clue instead of saying he just ran out of time, it might have misled you into giving an alternate response.” To correct the mistake, McHugh received the $600 she had lost on the question, bringing her total from $200 to $800.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for McHugh to win the game. Although she ultimately made it to the Final Jeopardy round, Amodio won the game, bringing his four-day total to $122,400. Meanwhile, Pearce, a product specialist from Fountain Valley, California, broke the record for the worst ever score on the long-running game show when he finished with -$7,400. Due to Jeopardy! rules specifying that players with negative scores cannot participate in Final Jeopardy, he was unable to compete in the final round.
Despite Burton’s mid-game hiccup, he still seemed to win over fans. Throughout the evening’s show, many Jeopardy! viewers flocked to social media to cheer him on, with one person saying that “he is the perfect person to continue on Alex’s legacy as host.” Prior to his Monday night Jeopardy! debut, fans had petitioned the game show to bring Burton on as host. He officially joined the roster of guest hosts in April. At the time, Burton said he was “overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you in me.” At this time, Jeopardy! has not announced a permanent host.