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Jay Leno talks surprising retirement plans as he continues to recover from terrifying car fire and motorcycle crash

The former Tonight Show host suffered back to back incidents in late 2022

Jay Leno Visits The SiriusXM Hollywood Studios on October 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz ColonOnline News WriterNew York
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The last couple of months have not been easy for Jay Leno, who endured not one but two traumatic accidents that left him with multiple injuries throughout his body.

First, on November 12 of last year, the star, 73, was involved in a terrifying car fire inside his Los Angeles home's garage while working on a vintage car, which left him with severe second and third-degree burns and a subsequent nine-day stint at Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital. Then, just over a month later on January 27, he broke his collarbone and two ribs following a motorcycle accident.

Despite the back to back accidents, the comedian, who currently hosts both the NBC game show You Bet Your Life as well as Jay Leno's Garage, isn't stopping any time soon.

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Speaking with Page Six at the premiere of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge, Leno opened up about his retirement plans (spoiler alert, there are none), and what it would take for him to step back from public life.

The late night veteran maintained that he doesn't plan to retire "unless I have a stroke," adding: "Then you slow down."

Insisting he won't step back from his career unless his health truly demands it, he declared: "That's when you retire, when you have your stroke."

Jay Leno attends Press Event For NBC's "Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge at The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum on May 20, 2023 in El Segundo, California© Getty
The comedian attended the premiere of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge on May 20

Leno had the same resilient attitude in the aftermath of both of his recent accidents, and after his nine-day hospitalization, where he had several grafting procedures, he immediately got back behind the wheel and even drove to the scene of his accident. Less than a week later, he returned to the stage, performing to a sold-out crowd at Comedy Magic Club in California's Hermosa Beach, receiving a standing ovation in return.

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The former late night show previously opened up about his car fire accident in an interview with People a month after the incident, where he told the outlet: "When you work with cars, you have a lot of accidents," however adding: "But this is bigger than most."

Jay Leno is seen on November 22, 2022 in Los Angeles, California© Getty
Leno has a longtime passion for cars and owns a 140,000 square-foot garage

He recalled getting a "full face of gasoline" while he was working on a clogged fuel line in the undercarriage of a 1907 White Steam Car, and admitted: "I knew how close I was to the pilot light and I thought 'Uh oh.'"

"It felt exactly like my face was on fire," he said, describing it as: "Maybe like the most intense sunburn you've ever had, that'd be fair to say."

Jay Leno and Mavis Leno attend the private unveiling of the Meyers Manx electric automobile at Little Beach House Malibu on August 08, 2022 in Malibu, California© Getty
The former late night show has been married to his wife Mavis since 1980

During his time in the hospital, during which he took no pain medication because it served as "a reminder that I'm an idiot," he underwent two skin grafting surgeries – one with human cadaver skin and a second with pig intestine –  to help regenerate healthier new skin, plus he had sessions in hyperbaric chambers to help oxygenate tissue.

He also received an outpour of support from his family and famous friends. His wife of 43 years, Mavis, slept beside him during his time at the burn center, and he shared: "[John] Travolta sent me a big Italian basket, Tom Selleck sent flowers and Russell Crowe called from Australia. I've been in this business a long time and to feel that love was really touching."

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