Mike Richards is stepping down as the new permanent host of Jeopardy!, he announced today, but that doesn't mean he is leaving the quiz show completely. Sony confirmed that Richards would be vacating his role of host, but will stay on as an executive producer. Richards joined Jeopardy! as an executive producer in 2020.
"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," Sony's statement read, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter's Lesley Goldberg. "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."
Richards was already a point of controversy when he was announced as the host for a few reasons, but after a report from The Ringer dug into his past as a podcast host — revealing disparaging remarks about Jewish people, Asian people and women — the backlash reached a new level. The Ringer's report came about a week after Richards was officially named the new host of Jeopardy!, replacing the late Alex Trebek, who passed away in November. On Friday morning, Richards announced in an internal memo to the Jeopardy! crew that he would be stepping down.
In the memo to the Jeopardy! team, shared Friday by Goldberg, Richards said that while he was "deeply honored" when he was asked to serve as permanent host of the syndicated show and was "thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role," it has become clear that staying on as host "would be too much of a distraction for the show." As such, he announced, "I will be stepping down as host effective immediately." Although the upcoming season of Sony Pictures Television's syndicated daytime quiz show already began filming as planned, Richards explained that due to his decision to step back as host, "we will be cancelling production today [Friday]."
The show will resume its search for a permanent syndicated host, Richards said, and will bring back guest hosts in the meantime in order to continue production for the new season. Details for that will be announced next week. It's likely that Richards will take part in the search for a new host since he's staying on as an executive producer.