Newly minted “Jeopardy!” host Mike Richards issued an apology Wednesday night for sexist, crass remarks about women he made on a former podcast, the latest bout of controversy following his coronation as the new face of the beloved game show.
The mea culpa came shortly after The Ringer published details from the podcast, called “The Randumb Show,” that Richards hosted from 2013 to 2014 while he was producing “The Price Is Right.” In episodes reviewed by the site, Richards at times called his co-host, Beth Triffon, a “booth ho” and “booth slut” after she spoke about working as a model at a trade show. In others, he compared women’s Halloween costumes as prostitute outfits, commented on former female co-workers’ weight and appearance, and disparaged Triffon’s economic status.
Richards said the comments were “a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago.” All episodes of the show were wiped from the Internet on Tuesday after The Ringer asked about his remarks.
“Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry,” he told The Ringer. “The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it’s more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes.”
Sony told The Ringer it was not aware of the podcast until the online site brought his comments forward.
Sony announced last week that Richards would take over hosting “Jeopardy!” after the death of the legendary Alex Trebek, with actor Mayim Bialik also named as a host for the show’s spinoff specials, beginning with the “Jeopardy! National College Championship.” Richards had served as executive producer of the long-running game show since May 2020.
But his appointment was met with swift criticism, particularly after The Daily Beast published allegations earlier this month that he had mistreated female staff members. The Beast cited old lawsuits that claimed he made insensitive remarks to a pregnant employee, although his name was removed from the suit before it was settled.
Richards denied any wrongdoing and sent a memo to “Jeopardy!” staffers saying the allegations were part of an employment dispute and the claims did “not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right.”
Longtime fans were also surprised to see Richards’ name among a list of popular guest hosts, including LeVar Burton, Ken Jennings and Bialik, with some disappointed that a fairly obscure figure behind the show’s scenes would be tapped to lead it.
The New York Times added that Richards was in charge of sending episodes about prospective hosts to be screened by focus groups, whose decisions were heavily weighed by Sony leadership. Sony’s TV chairman reiterated to the publication that Richards was not involved in the final host selection process, and Richards himself said that, although he was “honored” to be considered, he was not involved in the selection process.
“Jeopardy!” begins taping its new season with Richards as the host on Thursday.