The hunt for a new host for the beloved quiz show Jeopardy! is on, following Mike Richards' recent step down from the position, but many are wondering what Richards said that ultimately caused so much controversy. The former Jeopardy! executive producer had previously been the subject of a harassment lawsuit, but the details of his inappropriate comments have been left out of many press releases.
So, what did Mike Richards say? Here's what we know about his comments.
What did Mike Richards say? He made tasteless comments on 'The Randumb Show' podcast.
Between 2013 and 2014, Richards was the host of a podcast called The Randumb Show. Per The Ringer, Richards made a series of offensive comments about women, unhoused people, Haitian people, Jewish people, and more throughout the tenure of the show. He also repeatedly used the "R" slur and derogatory phrases for people with dwarfism.
One example given by The Ringer showcases an episode from Sept. 4, 2014, after the celebrity iCloud photo hack, in which Richards asked his assistant and co-host — both women — whether they had ever taken nude photos. When his co-host awkwardly said she took photos of herself when she "felt cute," Richards pushed her. "Like booby pictures? What are we looking at?" He also asked to go through her phone, and when she declined, he asked if it was because they were "of [her] boobies."
In another episode, The Price is Right announcer George Gray makes an unspecific comment about big noses, and Richards chimes in with an antisemitic comment of his own, "Ixnay on the ose-nay," he says. "She’s not an ew-Jay." It is for this comment and others like it that the Anti-Defamation League has called for an investigation of Richards.
Richards's comments about women have been some of the most disturbing, with many of his comments revolving around women's weights. In one exchange with former assistant Beth Triffon, she mentions being a model at CES, and Mike proceeds to refer to her as a "booth ho" and "booth slut."
He also takes the opportunity to criticize Beth's friends after seeing a photo of a trio in bathing suits at the lake. Richards remarks that one-piece swimsuits are "genuinely unattractive." He says, "Not good. Not becoming. Not flattering," and adds that the suits make her friends look "really frumpy and overweight."
Richards further doubles down on his disparaging comments, and the exchange between him and Beth ends with him remarking that if one of her friends ever came up to him in a piece of unflattering clothing, he would "give her a smack."
Richards did issue an apology statement to The Ringer and separately to the Jeopardy! staff via a memo obtained by article writer Claire McNear. However, before the release of The Ringer's article, he removed the entire podcast from rotation, claiming, "Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable." That apology didn't prevent further fallout, however. On Aug. 31, 2021, Sony Pictures Television told staff that Richards "will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately."
Jeopardy! is once more on the search for a permanent syndicated host.