Scandal-Ridden ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Abruptly Steps Down Before Game Show Even Airs

Richards announced on Friday that he will be stepping down as host of “Jeopardy!” – just nine days after accepting the

position once filled by the late Alex Trebek

.

“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,” Richards wrote in a statement.

“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.”

The 49-year-old will retain his position as executive producer of “Jeopardy!”

Additionally, production has been canceled and the game show will resume testing out guest hosts to fill the position. The show plans to release more information on the guest spots in the coming days.

“I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence,” Richards concluded.

Aside from a February test-run, the 49-year-old has had the opportunity to host the show.

Reruns highlighting Trebek’s tenure

have instead been airing for the past several days.

‘Price is Right’ Models Allege Gender-Based Discrimination

Prior to Richards’ acceptance of the role, questions arose regarding allegations leveled against him during his 10-year run as executive producer of “The Price is Right,” the longest-running game show on television.

Models Brandi Cochran and Lanisha Cole respectively filed lawsuits in 2010 and 2011, alleging that Richards was involved in gender-based discrimination against them.


According to Variety

, Cochran’s suit went to trial in California’s Los Angeles Superior Court, and targeted Richards, production company Fremantle Media and others with the company. Cochran alleged that she was the victim of wrongful termination after she announced that she was pregnant with twins. Cochran was initially awarded $8 million in damages, but the decision was later overturned following a 2014 appeal. A settlement was ultimately reached between the parties.

In 2013, Richards was dismissed from Cole’s harassment and wrongful termination suit, which eventually settled out of court.


©
AP Photo / Willy Sanjuan

Mike Richards poses in the press room at the 45th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on April 29, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. Eight months after the death of beloved “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.

The now-49-year-old addressed his past litigation in

a statement issued to “Jeopardy!” staffers earlier this month

, arguing that his alleged conduct in “these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am.”

“We embraced and celebrated each pregnancy and birth both in front of and behind the camera,” Richards wrote. “It was a joy to watch their families grow and highlight their happiness as part of the show.”

His claims were somewhat backed up by “The Price is Right” host Drew Carey, who also advocated for Richards to host “Jeopardy!”

Richards Deletes Podcast Episodes After Questionable Comments Unearthed

Earlier this week several episodes of “The Randumb Show” – Richards’ podcast that ran from 2013 to 2014 –

were parsed by The Ringer

, bringing about more questions concerning the 49-year-old’s temperament and past actions.

Richards, who has a past in stand-up comedy, was characterized as having a “tendency to turn bawdy and sometimes vulgar.” In one case, Richards referred to his former assistant Beth Triffon as a “booth ho” and “booth slut” in reference to her work as a model at the CES tech show. Both Richards and “Let’s Make a Deal” announcer Jonathan Mangum would later go on to refer to Triffon as a “boothstitute.”

He also grilled his female assistant and cohost on whether they have ever taken “booby pictures.” The outlet detailed that he later requested to go through one of their phones and, once rejected, asked whether the picture was “of [her] boobies.”

Additional soundbites revealed that the female body was a constant subject on his short-lived, 41-episode podcast series. He also made unsavory remarks about the Jewish community.

Richards told The Ringer that their reporting was “humbling” and allowed him to “confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.”

He argued that the podcast was supposed to be a “series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around.” Richards, who is married and has two children, claimed that he intends to live up to the “serious obligations” he has as a role model to his sons.

Sony Pictures Television, which produces and distributes the trivia game show, claimed to The Ringer that it was unaware of the existence of Richards’ podcast.

Social Media Users Rejoice, Offer Suggestions for New Host

Netizens unhappy with Richards’ alleged conduct, as well as those peeved with his selection as host of “Jeopardy!,” took to social media to celebrate. Even Dictionary.com took a dig at the 49-year-old.

James Holzhauer, who won 32 consecutive games in 2019 and took home more than $2.4 million from the game show, also weighed in on the developments, siding with netizens who questioned how Richards was tapped for the job in the first place.

“I was really looking forward to the season premiere where after an exhaustive 61-clue search for the next Jeopardy champion, the show looks past the three obvious candidates and declares Mike Richards the winner,”

the “Jeopardy!” champ tweeted on Friday

.