‘Jeopardy!’: Mike Richards Steps Down as Host, But Won’t Leave Show Entirely

by Chris Haney

On Friday, it was announced that Mike Richards would step down as the newest Jeopardy! host, but he won’t leave the game show entirely.

While Sony confirmed Richards’ exit as permanent host, they also shared that he would keep his job as executive producer. He’s held the position since 2020, and was also part of a team that searched for the game show’s next full-time host.

“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony’s statement read, according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Lesley Goldberg. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We’ve spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward. 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 EP he will continue to do so with professionalism and respect.”

Many Jeopardy! fans spoke out against Richards’ hire for various reasons. Some fans didn’t like the fact that someone so close to the hiring process was named the next host. Additionally, thousands of fans signed a petition in hopes of actor LeVar Burton taking over the hosting gig. Many other fans wanted the game show to hire the greatest contestant in the history of the show in Ken Jennings. He still owns the record with a 74-game win streak, and had high ratings during his own guest-hosting stint earlier this year.

Yet it was Mike Richards’ controversial and disparaging remarks on his past podcast that seemed to lead to his downfall. A report from The Ringer researched his inappropriate comments on Jewish people, Asian people, and women. That’s when the backlash against his new Jeopardy! hosting job gained traction.

‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mike Richards Sends Memo to Game Show Staff

Legendary host Alex Trebek passed away in November 2020, and a months-long search for his replacement ensued. Following the announcement of Mike Richards as the next host, around a week later The Ringer‘s report was released. By Friday morning, the new host announced he’d step down from the coveted position in an internal memo to the Jeopardy! staff.

Hollywood Reporter editor Lesley Goldberg shared Richards’ memo on Twitter. Richards said he was “honored” and “thrilled” to step into the position. Yet he also admitted that his “past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy!.”

Sony Pictures had already begun filming the new season of the game show with Richards as host. But production came to an abrupt end earlier today.

“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,” his statement continued.

“I will be stepping down as host effective immediately,” he added. “As a result, we will be canceling production today [Friday].”