New ‘Jeopardy!’ host Mike Richards steps down after past controversies resurface

Mike Richards on the set of 'Jeopardy!'
Mike Richards. Carol Kaelson/Sony Pictures Entertainment/Handout via REUTERS
  • Mike Richards has stepped down as permanent “Jeopardy!” host after past controversies resurfaced.
  • Richards was reportedly accused of harassment and discrimination at a previous job.
  • Most recently, a report resurfaced sexist and racist comments he made on a podcast in 2013 and 2014.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

New “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards has stepped down as past controversies have resurfaced.

In an internal memo shared with the “Jeopardy!” staff on Friday morning, Richards apologized for “unwanted negative attention” that his “past incidents and comments” have brought to the long-running game show.

“I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” Richards said in the memo, also shared with Insider by a representative for Sony (the network behind the show).

He continued: “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.”

Richards added in the memo that “Jeopardy!” would resume its search for a new permanent host, and would bring in guest hosts in the meantime. Filming has also halted on the show.

Richards joined “Jeopardy!” as an executive producer last year after spending over a decade producing “The Price is Right” on CBS.

In a separate email statement to Insider, a Sony representative confirmed that while Richards was stepping down as the host, he will stay on as a producer for “Jeopardy!”

Several ‘The Price is Right’ models said Richards and other producers discriminated against them

“Jeopardy!” has featured a rotating cast of high-profile guest hosts, including Robin Roberts and NFL star Aaron Rodgers, for several months after Alex Trebek, the beloved “Jeopardy!” host of 36 years, died last November.

Richards was picked to succeed Alex Trebek as the new permanent host earlier in August, but the decision was met with immediate backlash. (The actor Mayim Bialik is set to host special episodes and spin-offs.)

Alex trebek jeopardy
Alex Trebek. Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Even before Richards’ brief stint as the permanent “Jeopardy!” host became official on August 11, the Daily Beast compiled years-old news reports from the Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter about how some “The Price is Right” models accused him and other producers on that show of discrimination and harassment.

The models Sharon Stirling and Brandi Cochran said in separate lawsuits that Richards and some other “The Price Is Right” producers reacted negatively to news about their pregnancies.

A third model, Lanisha Cole, said in another suit that Richards would not speak to her directly while he was in a relationship with another model.

Price is right
Bob Barker on ‘The Price Is Right.’ AP/Kevork Djansezian

A Ringer report published on Wednesday resurfaced sexist and racist comments Richards made about women and Jewish people on “The Randumb Show” podcast between 2013 and 2014.

According to the Ringer’s report, Richards said one-piece swimsuits make women look “really frumpy and overweight,” and in a separate episode asked a younger woman if she took “booby pictures” while discussing a 2014 iCloud hack that leaked young female celebrities’ personal photos and videos.

Richards also said on the podcast “Ixnay on the ose-nay – she’s not an ew-Jay,” in response to a comment about big noses. The Anti-Defamation League shared a Twitter statement on Thursday calling for an investigation into Richards over the remarks.

That same day, Richards called his past comments on “The Randumb Show” podcast “a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.”

A Sony representative told Insider over email on Friday that the network was “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,” the statement read.