Mike Richards Opens Up About Resigning As 'Jeopardy!' Host After 1 Day

More than two years after he stepped down as “Jeopardy!” host amid backlash, Mike Richards is hoping to clear the air.

Richards was announced as longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s successor in August 2021, about nine months after Trebek died of pancreatic cancer at age 80.

The news, however, was criticized by many “Jeopardy!” viewers, given that Richards was one of the game show’s executive producers. In addition, “Jeopardy!” had, at that point, featured a rotating list of guest hosts ― including New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton ― who had emerged as fan favorites.

In an interview with People published Wednesday, Richards said that there had been no contingency plan in place as far as finding a replacement for Trebek. When he was formally tapped for the gig, he noted, “No one was more surprised than me.”

“Everyone was so angry because it looked like I had gone into a room and picked myself,” he said. “And that’s not what happens in television, but I understood that that’s what the outward appearances were.”

Although Richards understood that his appointment was “going to be scrutinized as closely as a presidential election,” he wasn’t prepared for allegations that he’d mistreated female staff members while serving as executive producer of “The Price is Right” to resurface.

“It was insinuated that I had been personally sued for sexual harassment,” he told People in regard to the allegations. “I never had, but that didn’t matter.”

An exposé published by The Ringer during that time also uncovered a series of sexist remarks that Richards had made on “The Randumb Show,” a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014.

Richards accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Game Show for
Richards accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Game Show for "Jeopardy!" in 2021. Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 via Getty Images

In response to the exposé, Richards apologized, calling his comments “a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.” However, the damage was done, and he resigned from “Jeopardy!” after just one day on the job.

While speaking with People, Richards reflected on the fallout, saying, “It was the price you pay for getting thrust into the zeitgeist in a very inopportune moment.”

These days, Richards said he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the “firestorm that engulfed my family” at the time of his resignation. He also has high praise for current “Jeopardy!” host Ken Jennings, saying, “I always thought Ken was the guy.”

As for his decision to speak out about his experience now, he’d like to be seen as “a force for good as far as having open, honest conversations.”

“We can all disagree about a lot of things,” he said. “We can disagree about politics, we can disagree about who hosts ‘Jeopardy!’ We can disagree about liking a final ‘Jeopardy!’clue. And we should. But I felt like there was this rush to judgment, and a lot of people got joy in saying, ‘I got you.’”