Update August 20th: Host Mike Richards has stepped down; more here.
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The search for Jeopardy!‘s new permanent host seemed to have found a final answer on August 11 when Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik were named as Alex Trebek’s successors — and yet, more information about Richard’s controversial past has been unveiled. In an investigation made by The Ringer, Richards was found to have made disparaging comments about women, Jewish people, and others on one of his old podcasts.
Richards has already been under fire for lawsuits regarding alleged harassment and discrimination while he served as a producer on The Price is Right. While the Jeopardy! EP was still rumored to take over to the podium, reports from his past including alleged discrimination against pregnant models and other women on the game show surfaced. Although Richards denied these allegations, saying the cases did “not reflect the reality” of who he is as a person, more comments made in years prior present another reality.
On his podcast The Randumb Show, which he hosted from 2013 to 2014, Richards frequently made disparaging comments about women’s bodies. In an episode published in Sept. 2014 after the iCloud photo hack that exposed a handful of women celebrities, Richards asked his co-hosts (both younger women) if they had ever taken nude photos of themselves. One of the co-hosts said she took photos of herself when she looked cute, and Richards responded, “Like booby pictures? What are we looking at?”
On another episode in 2014, Richards made a statement about how one-piece swimsuits make women look “really frumpy and overweight.” The podcast episodes have since been removed from their original website, but audio clips are still available via the Internet Archive.
In another episode, Richards was discussing big noses when he said, speaking in pig latin, “Ixnay on the ose-nay. She’s not an ew-Jay.” He also referred to his female assistant as a “booth ho,” referencing her past work as a model, and used derogatory terms for little people and people with mental disabilities, including using the R-word.
Another revealing aspect of the podcast is Richards’s frequent obsession with fame, with at least two episodes referencing how he sees himself in the showbiz world. According to The Ringer‘s report, Richards “inserted himself into the hosting lineup,” using multiple forms of manipulation (like focus groups, and his control over the entire Season 37) to prop himself up in talks for the permanent gig.
Also included in the report: members of the Jeopardy! staff were “blindsided” by Sony’s announcement of the hosts, and multiple sources explained that “staff morale has deteriorated under Richards’s watch as EP.” Further, interviews with staff from Jeopardy!, Sony, and Richards’s other shows have painted a portrait of an “exclusionary and dismissive” figure — who “wasn’t shy about wanting to move in front of the camera.”
Richards issued an apology after the audio clips resurfaced: “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” he said. “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.”
Jeopardy! begins taping its new season today, with Richards at the podium in place of Trebek and a new era ahead of the famed quiz show.