‘Jeopardy!’: Former Contestant Blasts Mike Richards, Says Hiring Himself Left ‘Bad Taste’

by Madison Miller
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For a trivia show that was steady and consistent for over three decades, all the “Jeopardy!” drama has left some fans stunned.

Following the death of the beloved longtime host Alex Trebek, “Jeopardy!” desperately set out on a months-long journey to find the new host of the series. Guest host after guest host appeared on the screen.

Eventually, news broke that Mike Richards had been selected as the new full-time host. He was the executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” since 2020. He also brought along a lot of baggage in the form of past problematic statements and actions. He had the job for nine days before stepping down and then a week later he also lost his job as EP.

Former Contestants Talk ‘Jeopardy!’ Scandal

Now, “Jeopardy!” is wrapped up in a lot of controversies, unlike its past stable, unproblematic history. A former contestant from 2018, Staci Huffman, spoke to The Spokesman-Review regarding the entire situation. She offers a unique perspective seeing as she is a past contestant.

“I’m surprised. I didn’t realize there was so much turmoil. When it was announced that he (Richards) would host, it seemed like a situation in which he was looking for a good host, but he decided to pick himself. That left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s so different than what it was like with Alex Trebek. Alex was the nicest guy who worked so hard with his staff every day. When I was on the show, he wasn’t sick yet. He wasn’t diagnosed yet. He just signed a new contract. You had the feeling that there was no need to worry about anything since you figured Alex would be around for years,” she said to the local news site.

Now, “Jeopardy!” must fill two gaps instead of one. In addition to finding a replacement for Trebek that lives up to his legacy, executives must also find a new executive producer. Meanwhile, another contestant from 2018, Melissa Stewart, also shared thoughts on the whole situation.

“As a Gen Xer, I would love to see LeVar as the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ I loved him on ‘Reading Rainbow.’ He appeals to people of my age, and my parents remember him from ‘Roots.’ A big reason to consider LeVar Burton is that he’s scandal free. He’s also great on camera. He’s an actor, and I believe he would be phenomenal as host,” she said.

It was clear from the beginning replacing Alex Trebek would be difficult, given his lifetime commitment to the show. Despite the drama that has clouded “Jeopardy!” recently, the trivia show still has a loyal backing.

“Jeopardy!’ is an institution and isn’t going anywhere despite all of this,” Stewart said.

Another popular former contestant, James Holzhauer, shared his excitement for Mike Richards’ departure on his Twitter account. Shortly after the news, he wrote, “Do I think Mike Richards’s podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No. But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy? Also no.”

He later shared what else about Mike Richards rubbed him the wrong way. “Some judged Mike Richards solely on his podcast comments and formed a negative opinion, but I judged him by the way he treated people backstage at Jeopardy and formed a much stronger negative opinion,” Holzhauer wrote.

Outsider.com