Mike Richards, who was named the new host of "Jeopardy!" last week, has stepped down from his role after offensive and sexist comments he made on a podcast several years ago resurfaced.
Richards announced his abrupt departure Friday in a statement shared to Twitter by The Ringer’s Claire McNear, explaining that it pained him to see how "past incidents and comments have cast such a shadow on 'Jeopardy!' as we look to start a new chapter."
"I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role. 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," Richards said.
"As such, I will be stepping down as host effective immediately. As a result, we will be canceling production today," he added.
Sony Pictures, which produces the show, will continue to search for a permanent host to fill the role that was left vacant after Alex Trebek died on Nov. 8. In the meantime, guest hosts will continue to be featured on the show, Richards explained.
"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. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence," he said.
News of Richards' initial hiring was met with scrutiny as longtime fans resurfaced discrimination lawsuits in which he was involved. He has denied any wrongdoing, but a second wave of backlash arose earlier this week after McNear reported on disparaging remarks Richards had made about women, as well as Jews, while hosting a podcast called, "The Randumb Show," and co-executive producing "The Price is Right."
In a statement to The Ringer, Richards said it was "humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."
He said there was "no excuse" for his comments, which he apologized for.
"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," he continued. "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."
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