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Mike Richards Sparks Debate After Blaming COVID For His Firing As 'Jeopardy!' Host After One Day

The former 'Jeopardy!' executive producer was let go after just one day of hosting the show, and now he's speaking out about what he thinks led to his ouster—including COVID.

Mike Richards

Former TV game show producer Mike Richards opened up about his immediate firing as the host of Jeopardy! after he was chosen to replace Alex Trebek nine months after the beloved host died from pancreatic cancer in 2020.

The 48-year-old TV host partially blamed his dismissal from the show on COVID in a polarizing interview with People magazine.

Before making the eyebrow-raising comment, Richards recalled how unprepared producers were with discussions on how to move forward without Trebek hosting the popular quiz show.

He said:

"We never talked to potential hosts to replace Alex once we knew he was sick."
"A conversation like that would have been so disrespectful."

Potential candidates to replace Trebek included New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and TV journalist Katie Couric, both of whom tried their hand at hosting duties.

Ultimately the show's permanent host went to Ken Jennings, the highest-earning American game show contestant who holds the record for longest winning streak on Jeopardy! with 74 consecutive wins.

Before landing on Jennings, however, the game show's executive producer, Richards, was selected to host the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! in August 2021, which drew public scrutiny.

"Everyone was so angry because it looked like I had gone into a room and picked myself," he told the media outlet.

"And that's not what happens in television, but I understood that that's what the outward appearances were."

However, his stint was short-lived.

Richards resigned as host and was fired as executive producer on the show after a day of filming five episodes when some hateful comments he'd made in the past resurfaced.

In 2014, Richards made disparaging remarks aimed at women and marginalized communities in his 2013-2014 podcast, The Randumb Show.

The show was touted as a behind-the-scenes look from his time working on The Price is Right, but Richards described it as "a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around."

But when looking back on his Jeopardy! ouster, Richards placed some blame for his firing on COVID.

You can watch a news report here.

Jeopardy!'s Mike Richards Speaks Out More Than 2 Years After Being Fired From Hosting Gig | E!

At the time, Richards issued an apology statement, saying:

"It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."
"Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."

According to People:

"Richards left his position at 'Jeopardy!', and says the fallout was both painful and frightening when it came to the hate he and his family received."
"He notes that it was COVID, the country was divided over everything from politics to vaccines, and that he definitely bore the brunt of many people's anger."
"He also says that a lot of what was written about him was half-true, or taken out of context."

Richards added:

"But by then everyone was like, 'Oh he's just a horrible person.'"
"It was the price you pay for getting thrust into the zeitgeist in a very inopportune moment."

A few fans sympathized with Richards, noting how challenging the situation was.

E! News/YouTube

But others made it clear they didn't agreed with Richards' assessment of what led to his ouster.

He told the outlet he's come to terms with being canceled, which prompted him to come forward at this time.

Said Richards:

"Why I am talking now is that I feel like I can be a force for good as far as having open, honest conversations."
"We can all disagree about a lot of things. We can disagree about politics, we can disagree about who hosts 'Jeopardy!'"
"We can disagree about liking a final 'Jeopardy! 'clue. And we should. But I felt like there was a this rush to judgment, and a lot of people got joy in saying, 'I got you.'"

In regards to Jennings, Richards has no resentment towards the permanent Jeopardy! host.

"I always thought Ken was the guy," he said.