Mike Richards steps down as new 'Jeopardy!' host 'effective immediately'

Richards was announced as late host Alex Trebek's replacement last week.

August 20, 2021, 1:04 PM

Just over a week after being announced as the new host of the syndicated version of "Jeopardy!," Mike Richards is stepping down "effective immediately" amid resurfaced controversial remarks.

He announced his decision Friday in an internal note sent to "Jeopardy!" staff and obtained by ABC News.

"It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter," Richards began.

"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," 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, in the memo to "Jeopardy!" staff, said Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces the quiz show, "will now resume the search for a permanent syndicated host."

He also said guest hosts will be brought back in the meantime so production on the new season can continue, and that further details will be announced next week.

"I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted attention that has come to Jeopardy! over the last few weeks and for the confusion and delays this is now causing," Richards concluded. "I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence."

A spokesperson for Sony Pictures Television said the company supports Richards' decision and was "surprised this week to learn of ... the offensive language he used in the past."

"We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations going forward," the spokesperson added. "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 [executive producer] he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect."

Richards came under fire this week after a report from The Ringer exposed past disparaging comments made about women on "The Randumb Show," a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014, the recordings of which have since been deleted.

The backlash led to Richards apologizing, telling ABC News in a statement, "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."

This also brought to light a 2010 lawsuit in which a former model on "The Price Is Right," during Richards' tenure on the game show, said her contract was not renewed after she gave birth.

Of the discrimination case, which was settled out of court without any admitting of wrongdoing, Richards said the allegations "don't reflect the reality of who I am" and that he "would not say anything to disrespect anyone's pregnancy."

Richards was announced as the successor to Alex Trebek, who died last November after a years-long battle with pancreatic cancer, on Aug. 11. "The Big Bang Theory" star Mayim Bialik was simultaneously tapped to host for future "Jeopardy!" primetime specials and spinoffs.