'Jeopardy!' Star James Holzhauer Explains Why He Backs Mike Richards' Firing

Legendary Jeopardy! contestant James Holzhauer has explained his reasons for publicly backing Mike Richards' ousting as the show's executive producer.

Soon after the news broke on Tuesday that scandal-plagued Richards would no longer be a part of the syndicated quiz show, Holzhauer—who enjoyed a 32-game winning streak on Jeopardy!—shared his take on the matter on social media.

Taking to Twitter, Holzhauer wrote: "Do I think Mike Richards's podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No. But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy? Also no."

In an apparent reference to Richards' departure, Holzhauer also posted a GIF of the "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" scene from The Wizard of Oz.

Hours later, Holzhauer returned to the platform to share his reasons for speaking out against Richards, who recently stepped down from his new role as Jeopardy! host after his offensive podcast comments resurfaced in a report by The Ringer.

He wrote: "Some judged Mike Richards solely on his podcast comments and formed a negative opinion, but I judged him by the way he treated people backstage at Jeopardy and formed a much stronger negative opinion."

Holzhauer shared a link to an article from The Hollywood Reporter, which looked back at the workplace culture on the set of The Price Is Right during the time that Richards served as a producer on the show.

He also posted a picture of a TV screen being off under the words: "My fall plans." Another picture, which showed a screenshot of the Jeopardy! logo, had the words: "The McNear variant" written above it. The journalist who wrote the investigative article for The Ringer is named Claire McNear.

On August 20, after it was announced that Richards was stepping down as the new Jeopardy! host, Holzhauer also took a swipe at the producer on Twitter.

'Jeopardy!' star James Holzhauer and Mike Richards
(L-R) Legendary "Jeopardy!" contestant James Holzhauer has explained his reasons for celebrating Mike Richards being fired as the show's executive producer. Richards' ousting came just days after he stepped down as host. Michael Tran/FilmMagic;/Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

"I was really looking forward to the season premiere where after an exhaustive 61-clue search for the next Jeopardy champion, the show looks past the three obvious candidates and declares Mike Richards the winner," he quipped.

Through 33 appearances on the show, Holzhauer won $2,464,216, placing him behind only Ken Jennings in Jeopardy! regular-play winnings and number of games won. He won the show's "Tournament of Champions" in November 2019.

Calls came for Richards to step down came after The Ringer published an article on August 18 that detailed a host of sexist comments Richards made on his podcast several years ago while working as a producer on The Price is Right.

Lawsuits from his stint on The Price Is Right, which included accusations of sexist behavior, also led to calls for him not to be named the successor of beloved long-time host Alex Trebek, who passed away in November.

Some judged Mike Richards solely on his podcast comments and formed a negative opinion, but I judged him by the way he treated people backstage at Jeopardy and formed a much stronger negative opinion https://t.co/mebtz0Tgc3

— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) September 1, 2021

Do I think Mike Richards’s podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No. But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy? Also no

— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) August 31, 2021

Following the report from The Ringer, Richards released an apology before ultimately stepping down from his hosting role.

At the time, Sony Pictures Television shared in a statement that Richards would be staying on as executive producer on the show.

But on Tuesday, it was announced that he would be losing his role as executive producer on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune as the resulting backlash from The Ringer's article showed no signs of abating.

Suzanne Prete, the executive vice president of business and strategy for Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, announced the news in a message to staff members that Sony shared with Newsweek.

My fall plans The McNear variant pic.twitter.com/bCkoR5GwbW

— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) August 31, 2021

pic.twitter.com/ZCLQIBUQv7

— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) August 31, 2021

Prete stated in her messaged: "I'm writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately.

"We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened."

Actress Mayim Bialik will continue in her role as the Jeopardy! host for primetime specials and a spinoff series following Richards' departure. She will also take over the reins for the daily evening show ahead of more guest hosts stepping in.

In the interim, Richards' behind-the-scenes role will be taken over by Michael Davies, who serves as executive producer on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Late "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek poses on the set of the "Jeopardy!" Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament Show Taping on April 17, 2010, in Culver City, California. The beloved presenter passed away in November. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images