Mike Richards wasn't on Alex Trebek's list of potential 'Jeopardy!' successors

Alex Trebek didn't believe Jeopardy!'s success had to do with its host. But that theory is about to be tested if Mike Richards takes the reins.

Richards — who may or may not have appointed himself — was officially named as Trebek's replacement last week. Sony's announcement came amid resurfaced reports the longtime EP helped fuel a misogynistic and toxic work culture on The Price Is Right. Richards denied past discrimination claims but is coming under fire again as The Ringer unearthed sexist comments he made on an old podcast. The unnecessary drama is causing a lot of fans to wonder if this is what Trebek would have wanted.

Backlash ensues over Mike Richards being named as Alex Trebek's replacement on Jeopardy!.(Photo: Getty Images)
Backlash ensues over Mike Richards being named as Alex Trebek's replacement on Jeopardy!. (Photo: Getty Images)

The legendary host actually named some potential successors in a 2018 interview that's going viral on Thursday. While speaking with TMZ, Trebek specifically mentioned two possible hosts: L.A. Kings hockey announcer Alex Faust and CNN's Laura Coates.

Trebek mentioned Alex Faust and Laura Coates in an old interview. (Photo: Getty Images)
Trebek mentioned Alex Faust and Laura Coates in an old interview. (Photo: Getty Images)

It's irony of Coates's omission from Jeopardy!'s rotating lineup of guest hosts that's not lost on many — especially as only one Black woman, Robin Roberts, made the cut.

Coates offered a subtle comment amid the uproar.

There's a possibility why Richards wasn't on Trebek's list in 2018. While it's highly likely they knew each other, the two didn't overlap much on Jeopardy!. According to the New York Times, when Richards replaced Trebek's longtime colleague, Harry Friedman, in May 2020, he was only on set for 15 shoot days before Trebek stepped aside. That was 10 days before the pop culture icon passed away.

After Richards's old podcast made headlines on Wednesday — in which he called his cohost a "booth ho," "booth slut," and "boothstitute," — the embattled producer issued an apology.

"It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry," he said. "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."

A spokesperson for Sony declined to comment, but a source from the studio told The Ringer no one was aware of the podcast's existence or the episodes' removal until being notified.

As Richards began filming the show on Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League called for a deep-dive into his past comments: "New Jeopardy! host Mike Richards' disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter. Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm. This reported pattern warrants an investigation."

Trebek, who died in November 2020 from pancreatic cancer, wrote in last year's memoir The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life, that Jeopardy! is bigger than its host.

"And Jeopardy! will be just fine. It doesn't matter who's the host. It's a quality program. Look at The Price Is Right. When Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker, so many people said the show would never survive. It's still a success. There are other hosts out there who can do equally as good a job as me. I think Jeopardy! can go on forever."

That remains to be seen.