The search for a new Jeopardy! is back on
Mike Richards‘s reign as the new host of Jeopardy! is over before it ever really began. Richards announced he is stepping down after The Ringer dug up a series of sexist remarks he made on an old podcast.
Richards helmed The Randumb Show podcast between 2013 and 2014, and The Ringer combed through all 41 episodes of the show — which were available online right up until they were scrubbed from the internet once reporters began asking about the highly questionable content. Some of the lowlights: Richards asking his younger, female co-hosts if they’ve ever taken naked pictures, calling one of them a “booth slut,” and opining that one-piece swimsuits made women look “really frumpy and overweight.” Commenting on women’s bodies was a major theme, and um, I’ll take “Sexist Jerks” for $1000, please.
But wait, there’s more — Richards also sprinkled in some anti-Semitism, made derogatory comments about unhoused people, and even threw in the “R word”.
“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,” Richards said in a statement. But the apology seemed too little, too late. Combined with the fact that Richards had already been lambasted online for allegations of sexism made against him in two lawsuits from his The Price is Right days and the writing was on the wall.
A memo Richards sent to the show’s staff circulated on Twitter. He told the Jeopardy! team that “it pains me that these past incidents and comments have 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 added that production on the show would be halted for now, and a new slate of guest hosts would begin filming next week. There’s no mention of him leaving the Jeopardy! team completely, however, so presumably staying on his capacity as Executive Producer — which is its own can of worms.
Many fans on Twitter expressed relief that Richards wouldn’t be stepping into the late, great Alex Trebek’s hard-to-fill shoes. And of course, so begins another round of speculation and lobbying for favored candidates. Actress/nueroscientist Mayim Bialik had been hired alongside Richards to host primetime specials and spinoffs, so the possibility exists that she could step into the main role. LeVar Burton is also an internet favorite.
Fans will just have to hope that Jeopardy! (and its parent company, Sony) get it right next time.