How The Drama Over Jeopardy! Host Mike Richards Just Got Worse

The hunt for a new "Jeopardy!" host has ended, but the controversy over the choice is far from over. After a season of rotating guest hosts, the producers of the iconic game show announced their choice of two permanent successors to Alex Trebek: Mayim Bialik will be behind the podium for tournaments and special prime-time episodes, while longtime media figure Mike Richards will host the regular syndicated program (via CNBC).

The casting of Richards raised eyebrows among "Jeopardy!" fans. Although he has hosted other shows in the past, he's also the current executive producer of the show, which many see as an unfair advantage. Then news stories resurfaced about his harassing treatment of two models on "The Price Is Right" when he was a producer there, one of whom claimed pregnancy discrimination. The women both sued the production company and settled out of court, with Richards denying any wrongdoing (via People). Now, a stunning new report has trivia fans fuming yet again — and Richards scrambling to save face. 

The Ringer published a report on Richards' career that paints a picture of an executive who not only had his eye on the "Jeopardy!" job for years, but whose offensive behavior went well beyond the treatment of the "Price" scandal. As the outlet explains, Richards hosted a podcast "The Randumb Show" for several years. Recording from the "Price" studios, Richards discussed pop culture and other subjects with fellow cast, crew, and occasionally contestants. But it seems that's not all he discussed. 

Mike Richards has a history of regrettable remarks

Claire McNear of The Ringer — who is also the author of a book about "Jeopardy!" –  listened to the podcast episodes, which have since been taken down. What she found was a pattern of derogatory statements about women's bodies and appearance, including "prostitute"-themed comments and an anti-Semitic joke. 

One of Mike Richards' frequent targets was a cohost, Beth Triffon, who was also a former assistant of his. Richards used offensive terms for her short height and mocked her living situation when she was on unemployment. He also expressed disdain for people on public assistance. When Triffon once talked about giving a dollar to a woman who seemed to be in need, Richards exclaimed, "Oh my god...You're perpetuating the circle. Damn you, Obama...That's the sound of America going down the toilet."

On her Twitter account, McNear posted some additional quotes from the podcast. Richards said of Miley Cyrus, "Objectively, she is not attractive and she does not have a great body." He described a male Olympic figure skater as "kind of masculine and not what you would think of an ice dancer." Talking about his father's cattle ranch, he said, "[W]hat you want to be is a bull" because "they go crazy and they knock up every single one of the cows." Of a colleague who seemed to have gained weight, he said, "[W]e're going to have to go up there and go, 'OK, come on, it's time for The Biggest Loser.'"

Mike Richards may not escape his worrisome past

In yet another podcast episode (as posted by Claire McNear), Mike Richards seemed to be predicting his own future. "I believe that there is a movement...that people are going to start being held accountable for being poopheads on set. I think people being held to the same standard as a normal human is a good thing...People are going to get called out for being jerks."

And so he has. After his behavior on "The Price Is Right" came back to haunt him, Richards wrote a response to the "Jeopardy!" staff (via McNear) saying in part that the complaints about him "[do] not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on 'The Price Is Right.'"

This time, Richards couldn't deny his poopheadedness — though he still tried to frame it in the "that was then" context, explaining that "Randumb" was meant to sound like friendly teasing between pals. "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago," he said (via Us Weekly). "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry." He went on to say, "My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them." Will the Jeopardy! drama continue?