Inside Jeopardy!'s Search for a New Host After Mike Richards' Sudden Exit

Aaron Rodgers and LeVar Burton were previous frontrunners to host Jeopardy! before Mike Richards accepted—and stepped down—from the gig.

By Mike Vulpo Aug 20, 2021 9:37 PMTags

We'll take unpredictable game shows for 200, please.

Just when fans thought Jeopardy! had a plan for the new season, host Mike Richards announced on Aug. 20 that he would be stepping down from part of his duties after apologizing for past sexist remarks made on a podcast. Despite the turn of events, he remains an executive producer on the series.

"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," Mike said in a statement to E! News. "As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today."

Now, as the search for another new host begins, those close to the show are unsure about what could come next.

"Mike is resigning, but he's still running the show, so it is a very uncomfortable day for everyone behind the scenes as they try to navigate conversations about who might be replacing their boss," a source shared with E! News. "There was no contingency plan in place for something like this and no clear runner-up waiting in the wings."

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Our source added, "The crew was expecting to work today and are now waiting further instructions about when taping may resume." E! News has reached out to Jeopardy! for comment and has not heard back. 

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Back on Aug. 11, Sony Pictures Television announced that Mike will assume the position of full-time host of Jeopardy!'s daily syndicated program starting with season 38. In addition, Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy!'s primetime and spinoff series, including Jeopardy! National College Championship set to air on ABC next year.

While Mike's new role led to mixed reviews from fans, his decision to step down has some co-workers surprised. As our source explained, "The staff find it is pretty stunning that Mike finally got the role he wanted and now a dumb podcast probably 10 people listened to will end his dream, but he made his own bed there."

Between 2013 and 2014, Mike hosted The Randumb Show, which promised "inside knowledge on TV, pop culture and game shows." The Ringer reviewed all 41 episodes of the podcast and reported that Mike repeatedly used offensive language and made sexist comments about woman's bodies and clothing.

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The original recordings, which E! News has not listened to, have reportedly been deleted. On Aug. 19, Mike apologized for his mistakes. "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago," he said. "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."

Ultimately, Jeopardy! has a long list of guest co-hosts who have expressed interest in taking on a prominent role with the game show. During an appearance on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio, Aaron Rodgers called his appearances "so much fun" and admitted to wanting the hosting job.

"If they would have figured out a way to make it work with my schedule yeah, for sure," he shared on Aug. 19. "But I had such a such a blast. I have zero regrets with how it all went. It was such a special environment. It was surreal to be on that stage."

As for frontrunner LeVar Burton, he simply tweeted, "Happy Friday, y'all."

 —Reporting by Spencer Lubitz 

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