Jeopardy! is without a host once again. Following the death of iconic host Alex Trebek late last year, Sony went on a months-long search to find a replacement, which lead to a horde of different guest hosts, each vying for the permanent gig. Jeopardy! ultimately chose Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer, as Trebek’s successor, a decision that quickly became mired in controversy. Now, less than two weeks later, Richards has stepped down, leaving the podium vacant once again.
On Friday morning, Sony Television released a statement from Richards explaining his decision to step down, which came after multiple reports of his offensive behavior in years past and his abuse of power on Jeopardy.
“I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” Richards wrote in the statement. 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.”
The first of multiple controversies surrounding Richards came when he was announced as the new host. Richards is the executive producer of the show, and one of the people most involved with the search for Trebek’s successor. His appointment made the entire guest host system feel like a ruse, like it was his plan to hire himself all along. He was announced as the full-time Jeopardy! host, while The Big Bang Theory alum Mayim Bialik was revealed to be the host of special tournaments and spinoffs.
A report from The Ringer analyzed Richards’ behavior as the co-host of a podcast a few years ago, in which he was demeaning to women and Jewish people on several occasions throughout his time on the show. The report, along with others, also depicted his time as executive producer as troublesome for those who worked on the show. He was described by some as a “smile with sharp teeth.”
For now, it appears Richards will be staying on as an executive producer, and he will be helping in the ongoing search for a permanent host. There appears to be no change in Bialik’s role at this time.