New Jeopardy! host Mike Richards stepped down due to criticism of comments he made on a podcast several years ago.
He was named the show’s new host on Aug. 11 — 15 months after he joined the program as an executive producer. He took the place of long-time host Alex Trebek, who died in November after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Richards is accused of making sexist, anti-Semitic, and racist remarks on his podcast “The Randumb Show” to his co-host and assistant. All 41 episodes of the show, which ran from 2013 to 2014, were down as of Tuesday.
“On an episode following a massive iCloud hack in 2014, in which intimate photos of famous actresses were leaked, Richards [asked] the two women if they had ever taken nude photos. He then prodded for more, asking his cohost to go through her phone and show him an image,” The Ringer wrote its review published on Wednesday.
The Ringer also notes he used “a derogatory term for little people” to describe his cohost and former assistant, Beth Triffon, and actress Kristin Chenoweth. He also said Triffon should audition for Taiwanese characters because of her height.
When Triffon talked about issues with her apartment, Richards asked: “Does Beth live, like, in Haiti? Doesn’t it sound like that? Like, the urine smell, the woman in the muumuu, the stray cats.”
“In another episode, after Gray makes a nonspecific comment about big noses, Richards jumps in. ‘Ixnay on the ose-nay,’ he says. She’s not an ew-Jay,’” wrote The Ringer.
Richard also criticized Triffon for giving money to a homeless woman saying, “If you gave away money that was given to you by the government, that’s the circle of no life.”
Triffon said she thought the woman could use the money to “get some coffee or some food.”
“Or some crack! Or some meth!” Richards replied
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) publicly called for an investigation into what it calls Richard’s “pattern” of offensive comments.
“New Jeopardy! host Mike Richards’ disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter. Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm. This reported pattern warrants an investigation,” the ADL said on Twitter.
Fans of the show were not thrilled with parent studio Sony Pictures Television’s decision to give Richards the hosting role. In an online poll, fans preferred Jeopardy! Champion Ken Jennings. Actor LeVar Burton was the third favorite choice among voters. Actress Mayim Bialik is currently set to host prime-time tournaments.
In a statement, Richards said, “the allegations of these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy!”
“I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today,” he said.
Sony Pictures Television will continue its search for a new host and, in the meantime, will continue to bring on guest hosts during the production of the new season.