Mike Richards Out as ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Amid Cascade of Scandals

Mike Richards is out as “Jeopardy!” host, just nine days after he was tapped to succeed the legendary Alex Trebek as the face of the beloved quiz show.

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Richards, who is also executive producer of “Jeopardy!,” saw his hold on the job undone with astonishing speed after unflattering and downright ugly details surfaced about his past conduct and statements he made on an eight-year-old podcast series. He will remain the show’s executive producer and episodes that Richards shot on Thursday in his first and only day as “Jeopardy!” permanent host will run as scheduled to start off the new season on Sept. 13.

RELATED: The Rise and Swift Fall of ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mike Richards

On Friday, Sony Pictures TV confirmed that Richards had agreed to step aside as host. In a statement, Richards said the backlash had created “too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show.”
“Jeopardy!” has no choice but to run the Richards-hosted episodes taped Thursday because of the need for contuinity among contestants, given that the winner of each episode continues to compete on the following episode.

Richards’ hasty exit as host came a day after the Anti-Defamation League called for an investigation after a report surfaced in The Ringer that Richards made disparaging remarks about Jews, women and other groups in episodes of the comedy podcast “The Randumb Show” recorded in 2013 and 2014.

In the podcast, Richards had asked his female assistant and his female co-host whether they had ever taken nude photos, or in his words, “booby pictures.” In another episode, he called his co-host a “booth ho.”

In the end, Sony concluded that Richards’ image was too battered for him to take the helm of one of television’s most prestigious and popular brands. The irony is that the studio moved in his favor because he was seen as a neutral personality rather than an established name that might overshadow the show and its famously rapid fire, answers-in-the-form-of-a-question format.

“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony Pictures TV said. “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.”

But the studio also voiced support for him remaining in his role as executive producer. A new round of guest hosts will be tapped to tape episodes to launch the show’s 38th year in syndication next month. Richards began his first day of taping as permanent host on Aug. 19, which turned out to be his last day in the role.

“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,” Sony said.

Sony learned the hard way how much America loves “Jeopardy!” The search for the host to follow in the footsteps of Trebek, who died last November at age 80, was a long series of guest host turns by such notables as Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Dr. Mehmet Oz, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Aaron Rodgers and former contestants Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen.