“Jeopardy!” needs a new host — again.
Just days after being chosen to host the popular quiz show, Mike Richards is stepping down from the role amid backlash over insulting, sexist and antisemitic comments he made in the past, he announced Friday.
“It pains me that these past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on Jeopardy! as we look to start a new chapter,” he said in an internal memo to “Jeopardy!” staff.
“As I mentioned last week, I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” said Richards, who will remain as the show’s executive producer. “However, 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. As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately.”
Richards was named as Alex Trebek’s successor on Aug. 11 following a monthslong and controversial search for a new host. Almost immediately after the announcement, details of a discrimination lawsuit he previously faced came to light, sparking controversy and calls for his dismissal.
The 2010 lawsuit stemmed from his time as executive producer of “The Price is Right,” where he was accused of discriminating against model Brandi Cochran while she was pregnant. Richards, who lost the suit, reportedly said at the time: “I fire five models. What are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?”
Some of the other offensive language that resurfaced in recent days came from his old podcast, “The Randumb Show,” where he disparaged women’s bodies, made an antisemitic comment about big noses and used a slur for little people while talking about actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth. He also asked his female assistant and co-host about taking “booby photos” and once complained that one-piece bathing suits made women look “really frumpy and overweight.”
Richards was selected to host the show despite a poll showing that only 3% of respondents wanted him on the job. Actor LeVar Burton was the favorite candidate in the poll, with 14%, and on social media. Actress Mayim Bialik, who came in second in the poll, was chosen to host special episodes of “Jeopardy!”
Sony, which produces the show, is expected to resume the search for a permanent host. Richards will stay on as executive producer.
“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily News.
“We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past,” the statement reads. “We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”
In the meantime, the show will be bringing back guest hosts to continue production for the new season. Details will be announced next week, Richards said.
“I want to apologize to each of you for the unwanted negative attention that has come to Jeopardy! over the last few weeks and for the confusion and delays this is now causing,” he said in his memo. “I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.”
Burton, who had lobbied for the job himself, did not directly comment on Richards’ departure as host, but he posted a short and sweet message on social media just minutes after the announcement.
“Happy Friday, y’all!,” he tweeted.