Mike Richards, who was announced as the new permanent host of Jeopardy! earlier this month, is apologizing for sexist remarks he made in the past.
Richards, who is also the executive producer of Jeopardy!, issued a statement after The Ringer reported on his past controversies, including the podcast he started in 2013 called The Randumb Show. During the podcast, Richards made multiple questionable comments about women’s bodies, including asking his female assistant and his female co-host whether they had ever taken any nude photos and asking to see them. In another episode, he referred to his co-host as a “booth ho” and a “booth slut.”
More comments about women’s bodies include Richards, who was executive producer of The Price Is Right at the time, talking about an employee who had taken up baking — “We said that we were going to have to saw her out of her room because she was going to be so giant that she wouldn’t be able to fit out the door” — and that one-piece swimsuits made women look “really frumpy and overweight.”
Richards said he was “deeply sorry” for his past comments in a statement to The Ringer.
“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” the statement reads. “Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.”
“The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around,” the statement continues. “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. My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them.”
Sony’s decision to name 46-year-old Richards the host of Jeopardy! after the death of Alex Trebek has been met with some opposition from fans and former contestants, given his position as executive producer of the show and more famous guest hosts lobbying for the job. Past guest hosts have included Aaron Rodgers, LeVar Burton and Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings.
The Ringer also reports on when Richards was the executive producer of The Price Is Right and Let’s Make a Deal, which FremantleMedia North America produces for CBS, during which he was accused of pregnancy discrimination in two complaints filed by former Price Is Right models. Two were settled out of court and Richards was originally named as a defendant in one of those complaints, but was dismissed from the suit before it settled. The outlet reports that in one lawsuit, the former Price Is Right model claimed Richards “decided that the models’ skirts should be shorter and said that he liked the models to look as if they were going out on a date. … At his suggestion, models wore bikinis on the show more frequently.”
On Aug. 9, Richards emailed a statement to the Jeopardy! staff addressing the allegations.
“These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show,” he wrote. “I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together on The Price is Right. … I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”
He also said that choosing a permanent host for the beloved game show was “not my decision and never has been.”
“Throughout this search, Sony’s top priority has always been to continue the incredible legacy you and Alex built,” he told the staff. “As you know, Alex always believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show, and that will continue to be the guiding principle as the decision is finalized.”
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