’Jeopardy!’: Newly Named Host Mike Richards First Job in TV Was Interning for an Iconic Late Night Show

by Madison Miller

We now know Mike Richards as both the Executive Producer and full-time host of the syndicated “Jeopardy!” show, however, it takes time to get such a prestigious job.

“Jeopardy! is one of the most popular game shows ever. The former host, the legendary and beloved Alex Trebek, hosted for 37 years. He tragically passed away in November from a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Now, Richards is stepping in to appear in front of thousands of contestants and to keep the flame of “Jeopardy!” burning. He is also joined by Mayim Bialik, who will host primetime and any other special “Jeopardy!” competitions or events.

Mike Richards and ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’

It takes time to work your way up in the TV industry. Before landing his gig on “Jeopardy!” as the executive producer in 2020, Richards had a long career in TV. His first ever job was as an intern on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Mike Richards told Parade magazine that “it was such a great first experience.”

A couple of years ago, the new “Jeopardy!” host reflected on his time with “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” It was his 21-year-anniversary at that point in time.

“21 years ago (almost to the day) I stared at this historic stage with pictures of my TV heroes on it and interviewed to be an intern on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.’ I got the internship, which turned into a Production Assistant job…which lead to where I am now. My dream was to work anywhere in TV…my stated goal was to Executive Produce and host a show I created. Just shot a pilot presentation I co-created next door to this stage. I got to host it and was the EP … was so hungry to be a part of all of this back then and the more I get to do it, the hungrier I get…I mean that literally and figuratively, I am ready for lunch in this pic!” Richards wrote at the time.

New ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Experience in TV

He’s had other experiences since then as well. He was the executive producer of “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Made A Deal” for nearly a decade. He’s also been the executive producer on “Wheel of Fortune” as well as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Meanwhile, Jay Leno is still connected to the screen and will be hosting Fox’s revival of “You Bet Your Life.” The show is set to premiere in the fall of 2021. The show was first made famous by legendary comedian, Groucho Marx.

Mike Richards has been a fan of “Jeopardy!” since he was little. According to an interview on the “Jeopardy!” YouTube channel, he asked his mother for a subscription to The Wall Street Journal when he was 10 or 11. He was reading Encylopedia Britannica in the hopes of knowing the answers.

While he may not be a quiz master necessarily, Richards has a long successful history with game show TV. He’s won three Daytime Emmy Awards and has been nominated 13 different times. His position as the host of the show has been met with some controversy so far.