Mike Richards Steps Down As ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Amid Backlash

Mike Richards

Mike Richards
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

Mike Richards will not host the syndicated Jeopardy! after multiple controversies from his past emerged in the last few weeks. He just announced his exit in an internal memo. The show had already started production, which has been canceled for today as the search for a permanent host resumes. In the meanwhile, guest hosts once again will be stepping in, with Richards remaining an executive producer.

“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 said in his memo. (Read it in full below) “I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.”

The news comes on the heels of a Ringer report about offensive and sexist comments towards his female co-hosts and guests Richards had made on The Randumb Show, a podcast he hosted in 2013 and 2014, along with off-color remarks about Haitians and Jews. The controversy prompted the Anti-Defamation League to call upon Jeopardy! producer Sony Pictures Television to investigte and proved to be too serious for Richards to recover from without tarnishing the iconic Jeopardy! brand.

“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,” a SPT spokesperson said this morning. “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.”

In the past couple of weeks, Richards apologized for the comments on his podcast as well as for insensitive comments about pregnant women attributed to him in a lawsuit filed against The Price Is Right while he was a top producer there. He was involved in two suits by former models on the game show — both of which were ultimately settled — that received renewed attention once Richards emerged as the frontrunner for the Jeopardy! hosting job.

The news of Richards’ selection was met with immediate backlash by fans since it raised questions over the integrity of the host search as Richards was involved in it as the Jeopardy! executive producer and ended up getting the emcee job over popular host choices such as Ken Jennings and LeVar Burton.

Here is Richards’ memo:

Dear Team,

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. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today.

SPT will now resume the search for a permanent syndicated host. In the meantime, we will be bringing back guest hosts to continue production for the new season, details of which will be announced next week.

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. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.

Mike

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