‘Jeopardy!’: What Role Did Mike Richards Play in Searching For the New Host?

by Thad Mitchell

Popular game show “Jeopardy!” finally has a brand new permanent host in place just in time to begin filming a new season.

The new host is a familiar name to those closely associated with “Jeopardy!” and other game shows. Mike Richards, the quiz show’s executive producer, will move to the on-camera role moving forward. Actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik will also have a role with the game show. But it is Mike Richards who now becomes the face of “Jeopardy!” when it returns to television.

The permanent hosting position has been vacant since the death of Alex Trebek late last year. Trebek belongs on the game show version of Mt. Rushmore and became a household name during his 37 years behind the host’s lectern. Trebek passed away last November at the age of 80 from stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Now, the job belongs to Mike Richards but many questions exist as to why and how he got the job. Some game show fans think Richards gave himself the job at the end of the parade of guest hosts. Indeed, Richards did head up the search committee tasked with finding a new permanent host. However, he says he withdrew from the search committee when he emerged as a real candidate for the full-time hosting role. According to the New York Times, “Jeopardy!” parent company Sony Pictures says Richards stepped aside after a successful guest-hosting stint.

But the report also notes that the executive producer made decisions regarding guest host appearances. Something that other “Jeopardy!” producers were not privy to.

NFL superstar Aaron Rodgers, former “Reading Rainbow” star LeVar Burton and former contestant Ken Jennings we among fan favorites to land the “Jeopardy!” jobs. Richards did have a largely successfully two-week run as the show’s guest host. He was the second celebrity to take on the role once Ken Jennings finished his run. Richards ranked second among all the guest hosts in Nielsen rating scores with a 5.9 score. Jennings took the top spot, edging Richards with a 6.0 Nielsen rating score.

When the decision was made, Mike Richards reportedly sent a memo to “Jeopardy!” employees in an effort to clear up any misunderstanding.

“The choice on this is not my decision and never has been,” he allegedly says in the memo.

When Richards assumes command of the “Jeopardy!” hosting job, he will be joined by blazing hot contestant Matt Amodio. The reigning champ now has an 18-game winning streak and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. He continues his ascent in the “Jeopardy!” and is the third highest-earning champion in the show’s history. Only “Jeopardy!” legends Ken Jennings and Brad Holzhauer have earned more money than Amodio on the show. He will begin the new season as the reigning champion on September 13.