Jeopardy's Mike Richards Is Out As New Host As Scandals Pile Up

mike richards hosting final jeopardy

Rarely do "game show host casting" stories make it to the top of the news cycle, but Jeopardy! is the exception to the rule thanks to its high-profile search for a permanent replacement for Alex Trebek. Executive producer Mike Richards was previously confirmed to be taking over the prestigious role, which sparked an intense backlash concerning not only corporate favoritism, but also a slew of controversial comments and jokes that Richards made on a now-defunct podcast. It wasn't clear before how Jeopardy!'s other producers would react overall, but they've officially reversed their decision, with Richards no longer set to host.

Production was meant to begin this week by way of filming the first Jeopardy! episodes since Alex Trebek's 2020 death with a full-time host behind the podium. However, the mounting complaints being made against previous guest host Mike Richards were apparently too much to ignore, especially when coupled with resurfaced conversations over Price is Rights lawsuits he was involved with. Note that Richards isn't out of the picture altogether, as he will still be working behind the scenes on Jeopardy! while serving in an executive producer role, according to Variety.

Sony Pictures TV confirmed the decision reversal, but chose to present the major change as if Mike Richards is stepping down as a completely voluntary decision, while also addressing his remaining role on the popular game show. According to the studio's statement:

We support Mike’s decision to step down as host. We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have 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.

Meanwhile, Mike Richards reportedly also called the change a good move, saying it would be "too much of a distraction" if he were to remain in the role of permanent host. Which definitely isn't wrong, considering how vocal Jeopardy! fans have been in the nine days since Richards was announced to be co-taking over the gig with The Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik, who has been tapped to host primetime episodes and tournament specials. One of the most well-known critics has been Jeopardy! mega-champ James Holzhauer, who has been hilariously brutal on Twitter regarding Mike Richards' ascent, and seems to be in the camp of people who think Richards immorally paved the way to his own success.

On top of all the podcast comments Mike Richards made that have been seen as sexist and prejudiced against various cultures, races and body types — the Anti-Defamation League even spoke up in support of Richards being replaced — there have also been suggestions and suspicions that the EP half-sabotaged other guest hosts in order to make himself the most viable candidate. For instance, it's claimed that Richards may have doctored the edits of other guest hosts' episodes so make them less enjoyable for both test audiences and for mass TV audiences. No actual proof of any of that has come out in the aftermath, however.

We'll just have to wait and see if this means more fan-friendly guest hosts like Ken Jennings, LeVar Burton, or others will be called in to fill the void alongside primetime special host Mayim Bialik. Of course, fans will need to actually tune in and watch the episodes, which didn't seem to be the case for Burton, whose installments were the lowest-rated of the year so far.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.