More than a week after Jeopardy! named its new permanent host, the long-running game show is still facing backlash from fans over its selection of Mike Richards as Alex Trebek’s replacement. Richards was named permanent host alongside Mayim Bialik, who will host the primetime specials and spinoff series, following a season featuring more than a dozen guest hosts vying for the role and after a “tremendous amount of work and deliberation” went into the selection process, though many feel the choice not only fell flat, but was also controversial given Richards’ past.
Just days before the permanent host announcement, it was revealed that Richards, who serves as Jeopardy! executive producer, was at the center of allegations of discrimination from when he worked on The Price Is Right. In lawsuits filed by former Price Is Right models from Richards’ time serving as executive producer, accusations of pregnancy discrimination were raised. Following his selection as host, The Ringer published an article chronicling some of the offensive remarks that Richards made on a Price is Right-themed podcast called The Randumb Show. The remarks, which were both racist and sexist, were made as Richards co-hosted the podcast from 2013 to 2014.
While Richards has since issued an apology for some of his past misgivings, it has all but fallen on deaf ears among Jeopardy! viewers still baffled over his selection. In fact, a recent Morning Consult poll published by Mediaite days after the permanent host announcement found that 14% of respondents would prefer LeVar Burton as their first pick to take over the quiz show, five times more than the number of Jeopardy! viewers who selected Richards as their No. 1 choice. Further doubling down on the backlash, the poll also found that 14% of respondents said the casting choices made them less interested in watching the game show. The backlash has not only continued to play out in polls, though, as social media has continued to be flooded with criticism.
Goodness this dude is terrible. Not even the part where he sabotaged guest-hosts and then hired himself, but just on a purely human levelhttps://t.co/Wp5dfzgP0H
— Zito (@_Zeets) August 18, 2021
“is mike richards the next trebek? clearly no. but is he a fan favorite who will do a passable job hosting jeopardy? also no. is he at least a good guy? uhh, turns out no. ok but can we say he won this job fair & square? unfortunately no we cannot say that either,” one person tweeted.
What’s… a bad choice to succeed Alex Trebek? https://t.co/Cq8VfRnnef
— Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall) August 18, 2021
Responding to the report detailing Richards’ controversial podcast remarks, one person dubbed him “the anti-Alex Trebek.” That person noted from the report, “Mike Richards jokes about giving a woman a ‘smack,’ and how no one wants to see ‘overweight’ women. He yells at a model for going on unemployment and then scoops up 275K in PPP COVID money.”
What has to come out for Mike Richards to NOT get this job hosting #Jeopardy ??? pic.twitter.com/KfwSNcY0NM
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) August 19, 2021
“I have watched this show since I was a kid and Art Fleming was the host,” wrote another. “I cannot watch this man. It will bum me out tremendously not to watch the show every night, but it’s an absolute NO if this guy remains the host.”
Alex Trebek in heaven watching Mike Richards appoint himself Jeopardy host. pic.twitter.com/qNx5AmOV2A
— Aubry Andrews (@AubryAndrews) August 19, 2021
“jeopardy! is going out so sad and they only have themselves to blame,” wrote one viewer. “it’s sadly what happens in hiring every day right down to the pointless diversity interview knowing d– well the gig had been reserved for a mike richards type. corporate america but make it a daily double.”
Mike Richards is tarnishing Alex Trebek’s and Jeopardy’s legacy
— ᴊᴇʟᴀ (@jelevision) August 19, 2021
“I can’t help but think there’s something fishy about this situation,” shared another person. “Why would he be named as the new host with the past that he has? Why was Burton only given a week (during the Olympics!) to host while others got 2?”
WAIT… Alex Trebek actually wanted a BLACK WOMAN to take his place on @Jeopardy
instead the show let a sexist white man appoint HIMSELF?! https://t.co/k4FWeAbce1
— Chuck Todd’s shamble bangs (@Drea_got_rage) August 19, 2021
Amid the backlash, many viewers have pointed to Trebek’s own wishes when it came to passing on his Jeopardy! legacy. Prior to his November death, the long-time Jeopardy! host said he would like the role to go to a woman and specifically named CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates, who did not even make it onto the roster of guest hosts brought on following Trebek’s passing.
He was a producer-vulture waiting for the right moment to pounce on being the host. Of course it would be strategic not to have any dazzling competition in the candidates. She should have been given an audition and Sony/ABC should keep looking.
— Sabella “Izzy” Babic (@IsabellaBabic) August 19, 2021
“Alex Trebek said [Laura Cotes] would make a great replacement as host of JEOPARDY. She wasn’t even given an audition,” tweeted somebody else. “There’s a story.”