Mike Richards exits Jeopardy as host amid ongoing scandals

·4 min read
Mike Richards exits Jeopardy as host amid ongoing scandals

Mike Richards has exited Jeopardy as host.

Just over a week after the 46-year-old — also an executive producer on the long-running game show — was announced alongside Mayim Bialik as the full-time replacement for the late Alex Trebek, Richards announced in a staff memo obtained by EW that he will be stepping down amid a wave of resurfaced allegations of inappropriate behavior towards women as well as controversial past statements about Jewish people, people with mental disabilities, and more on his Randumb Show podcast from several years ago.

"It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy as we look to start a new chapter. As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show," he wrote. "As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today."

Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions Mike Richards guest-hosting 'Jeopardy'

The memo indicated that Sony Pictures Television will resume the search for a permanent host to join Bialik in his absence, and that a revolving door of guest hosts would return to rotation when production resumes.

"I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted negative attention that has come to Jeopardy over the last few weeks and for the confusion and delays this is now causing," Richards finished. "I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence."

Richards will stay on as an executive producer.

Sony Pictures Television issued the following statement to EW:

"We support Mike's decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike's 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.

Mike has been with us for the last two years and has led the Jeopardy team through the most challenging time the show has ever experienced. It is our hope that as EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect."

On Wednesday, Richards issued an apology for his Randumb Show comments, which were made while the podcast aired between 2013 and 2014.

"It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago," Richards said in a statement provided to EW earlier this week. "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry. The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it's more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them."

The Ringer further published an exposé on Wednesday, in which it was revealed that Richards made crude comments about women while hosting the podcast, which was meant to take listeners behind the scenes of The Price Is Right, the beloved competition series on which Richards served as a co-executive producer. Richards' episodes of Randumb were available on the podcast's site, mrichtv.podbean.com, until they were seemingly removed on Tuesday, though archived editions are accessible via the Internet Archive).

According to The Ringer, Richards commented on women's bodies and weight in addition to making offensive remarks about the size of a Jewish person's nose.

Prior to officially taking over as cohost of Jeopardy, Richards issued an initial apology for past behavior when details of alleged treatment of a Price Is Right model resurfaced from a discrimination lawsuit. Show model Brandi Cochran sued the producers at FremantleMedia North America and The Price Is Right Productions in 2012, saying that they discriminated against her for being pregnant (Richards wasn't personally named in the lawsuit). She alleged that, with relation to her situation, Richards said, "Go figure, I fire five models. What are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?" She subsequently won the suit and more than $7 million in damages, though the decision was overturned in 2013 before and the case later settled.

As a result of the reports, the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation into Richards on Thursday.

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