'Jeopardy!' Host Mike Richards Apologizes After Sexist Podcast Comments Resurface

The new host of Jeopardy!, Mike Richards, has issued an apology after inappropriate comments he made about women resurfaced.

The quiz show's executive producer—who was last week announced as its new permanent presenter alongside Mayim Bialik—made a series of sexist comments on podcast The Randumb Show, which he co-hosted between 2013 and 2014.

On Wednesday, news site The Ringer shared excerpts from the podcast, which offered a behind-the-scenes look at The Price Is Right, on which Richards was then a co-executive producer.

Among the guests who appeared on the podcast were models from the show, cast and crew members, including announcer George Gray, and celebrities, such as Chrissy Teigen and Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri.

In one 2014 episode of the podcast, he called his former assistant and co-host Beth Triffon a "booth ho" and "booth slut" because of a modeling job she had at the Consumer Electronics Show.

According to the Ringer report, Richards made disparaging comments about the appearance of women in multiple episodes of the podcast, including saying Triffon and a group of friends looked "really frumpy and overweight" in a photo of them wearing one-piece swimsuits.

He repeatedly used the word "midget" while discussing Triffon's height, a term he also used to describe actress Kristin Chenoweth.

During a conversation about big noses in another episode, Richards said: "Ixnay on the ose-nay. She's not an ew-Jay."

In an episode where Triffon spoke about problems in her apartment, Richards said: "Does Beth live, like, in Haiti? Doesn't it sound like that? Like, the urine smell, the woman in the muumuu, the stray cats."

Richards has subsequently issued an apology to The Ringer for the comments, saying his "attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable."

"Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards apologizes again
Mike Richards described the comments he made in 2013 and 2014 as a "moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity." Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

"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.

"The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. 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."

Newsweek has contacted representatives for Jeopardy! for comment.

Richards also faced controversy in the weeks leading up to the announcement that he would succeed Alex Trebek, the long-running Jeopardy! host who died in November 2020.

In 2012, model Brandi Cochran sued The Price Is Right and its producers at FremantleMedia North America, alleging they had discriminated against her for being pregnant, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Richards allegedly said of her pregnancy: "Go figure, I fire five models. What are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?"

Although Cochran won the lawsuit and was awarded more than $7 million in damages, the decision was overturned the following year because of an error in the judge's instructions to the jury. The case was eventually settled.

Lanisha Cole, another model on The Price Is Right, sued Richards and Fremantle in 2011 for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

Cole alleged that Richards "began to treat [her] differently" than the show's other models as he "had entered into a close, personal and intimate relationship" with another model and "engaged in improper favoritism as a result."

Richards was dismissed as a defendant and the lawsuit was subsequently settled in 2013, according to Entertainment Weekly.

In a memo to Jeopardy! staff earlier this month, Richards wrote, per EW: "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 am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of Jeopardy! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude.

"I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode. Alex believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show.

"I was fortunate to witness his professionalism, intensity and kindness up close and that will serve as the ultimate blueprint as we continue to produce the show we love."

"Jeopardy!" hosts Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik
Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik have been announced as the new permanent hosts of quiz show "Jeopardy!" Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images;/JB Lacroix/WireImage