‘Jeopardy!’: Mike Richards Subtly Addressed Major Backlash On-Air Over Initially Taking Full-Time Hosting Gig

by Chris Haney

If you blinked you may have missed it, but disgraced Jeopardy! host Mike Richards subtly addressed the overwhelming backlash against him in last night’s episode.

Richards’ tenure as the permanent host of the popular game show didn’t last long. But he did film one days worth of episodes – so five in total – that are currently airing this week. His handful of hosted episodes to kick off the new season began on Monday.

The controversy surrounding Richards has sadly taken away from the contestants themselves. Especially what would be the main storyline on the game show in reigning champion Matt Amodio. His current win streak sits at 20 games, which ties Julia Collins as the third-longest in Jeopardy! history. So under normal circumstances with longtime host Alex Trebek behind the podium, Amodio would’ve dominated Jeopardy! headlines.

However, that’s not the case these days because of Richards’ unceremonious exit from the game show. It’s been a dumpster fire of a situation for Sony Pictures who hired the longtime producer following Trebek’s death. But on Tuesday night’s Jeopardy! episode, Richards hinted at getting the show back on track by refocusing the attention on the contestants.

At the beginning of Tuesday’s show, Richards addressed the crowd and viewers at home. He referenced the importance of the contestants. Additionally, he vowed to keep the focus on the players – as if that fixed his past indiscretions.

“You know, the power of this show has always been derived from the contestants,” Richards explained on-air. “And my pledge to Jeopardy! fans everywhere is to continue to make this stage a place where our contestants can shine their absolute brightest.”

Too little, too late, Mike Richards.

‘Jeopardy!’ Heavily Edited Mike Richards First Episode as Full-Time Host

On Monday, Jeopardy! aired the first of Mike Richards’ five hosted episodes of his short stint as Alex Trebek’s replacement. As Season 38 kicked off, the game show did what it could to not disturb champion Matt Amodio’s current win streak. But producers did heavily edit his introduction, which wasn’t exactly seamless.

On Sept. 13, the game show began with a tribute to their beloved host Alex Trebek. The longtime Jeopardy! host passed away in November 2020 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. As Jeopardy! began, announcer Johnny Gilbert shared that the game show is dedicating the stage to Trebek.

“Earlier today, with Alex’s wife Jean, son Matt, and daughters Emily and Nicky, we dedicated the stage in his honor,” Johnny Gilbert revealed. “It will now forever be known as the Alex Trebek Stage.”

The game show then cut to Mike Richards as he hosted his first episode. Yet everyone at home knows his story, and knows he’s already stepped down as Trebek’s replacement. Richards past insensitive podcast comments resurfaced, and it didn’t take him long to lose the coveted position. Not long after, Sony Pictures ousted him from his executive producer position as well.

As the show got going on Monday, there was no pomp and circumstance for Richards’ arrival as host. There likely was some sort of speech he gave introducing himself as the proud new host. But Jeopardy! must have cut that portion of the taping, and instead chose to abruptly begin the show.

“Thank you Johnny Gilbert, great to see you. We are in the presence of a champion in the midst of a historic run,” Richards said. “… And now, for the first time from the Alex Trebek stage, let’s play Jeopardy!