‘Jeopardy!’: Former Champ Offers Hot Take on New Host Mike Richards Replacing Alex Trebek

by Josh Lanier

Austin Rogers, a former Jeopardy! champion, had a lot to say about Mike Richards taking over as permanent host of the syndicated show. Namely, he felt that Richards was a safe pick, but maybe not the right pick.

Rogers, who won more than $400,000 during a 12-game winning streak in 2017, told TMZ that Richards was probably not the right choice. But he was a safe choice. Richards has a lot of experience as a game show host and producer — despite a potentially dodgy past. And he understands how Jeopardy! operates.

Rogers was even a fan of Richards when the producer guest-hosted Jeopardy! shortly after Trebek died late last year. But Rogers admits that it was a safe choice, and perhaps not the best one. He felt similar to Mayim Bialik being named as host of Jeopardy! spin-offs and primetime episodes. Rogers said he was “on team Ken (Jennings) and team Buzzy (Cohen) the whole way.” He liked that they had been on both sides of the lectern and understood the game in ways other guest-hosts didn’t.

Regardless, he’s just happy Jeopardy! will remain on the air, and he’s hoping for the best. Other former Jeopardy! champions shared similar sentiments.

Nibir Sarma, a University of Minnesota student, won $100,000 in the 2020 Jeopardy!: College Championship said the new show was “kinda strange.” But he hoped the “end product still preserves the soul of what Jeopardy is.”

Fans React to ‘Jeopardy!’ Hiring Two New Hosts

Let’s be realistic. Whoever Jeopardy! chose would have faced some backlash. Each guest host had their own dedicated group of supporters, and they were going to stan for that person until the bitter end.

But the hiring of Mike Richards has upset more Jeopardy! fans that it has pleased, it would seem based on social media reactions. Whereas Sony choosing Mayim Bialik to host the show’s spinoffs and primetime episodes received mostly support.

It seems people took issue with Richards, an executive producer for the show, being tasked with finding Alex Trebek’s replacement and choosing himself.

“If the Jeopardy! guy was just going to pick himself, I like that he held public auditions with actual celebrities and well-liked people first so that his decision was as rocky and unpopular as possible,” one person tweeted. “If that guy wasn’t already the producer of Jeopardy! I’d be suspicious that the producers were sabotaging him.”

“The fix is in. It’s grossly unfair to ask the guest hosts to allegedly audition for the when the executive producer has already picked himself. Nice,” someone else posted.

“The problem isn’t that Mike Richards is ‘boring’ or ‘lesser known.’ The problem is that Sony auditioned a diverse, exciting, smart, competent and talented pool of candidates and then turned around and hired the existing EP,” another person wrote.

Mike Richards’ tenure as permanent Jeopardy! host begins on Sept. 13.