Mike Richards steps down as ‘Jeopardy!’ host after podcast comments resurface

Mike Richards stepped down Friday as the next host of “Jeopardy!” after controversial comments he made on a podcast that aired in 2013 and 2014 resurfaced, officials at Sony Pictures Television confirmed.

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“We support Mike’s decision to step down as host,” Sony said in a statement obtained by The New York Times. “We were surprised this week to learn of Mike’s 2013/2014 podcast and the offensive language he used in the past. We have spoken with him about our concerns and our expectations moving forward.”

In a statement to staff members obtained by The Ringer, Richards said his decision would be “effective immediately.” Richards, who is also an executive producer of the show, was named as the next full-time host of “Jeopardy!” earlier this month, following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek.

Actress Mayim Bialik was also named host of the show’s primetime and spinoff series.

>> Related: ‘Jeopardy!’ confirms Mike Richards, Mayim Bialik as quiz show’s 1st dual hosts

“I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role,” Richards wrote in the statement obtained by The Ringer. “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 the search for a new permanent syndicated host for “Jeopardy!” resumes, Richards said guest hosts will continue production for the new season, with more details to be released next week.

“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,” Richards wrote. “I know I have a lot of work to do to regain your trust and confidence.”

Richards previously hosted a podcast called “The Randumb Show” between 2013 and 2014, according to The Washington Post. During the podcast’s run, he frequently made vulgar comments about women’s bodies and also made disparaging remarks about Jewish people, short people, poor people and Haiti, The Ringer reported.

>> Related: ‘Jeopardy!’ host Mike Richards responds to past podcast comments about women, Jewish people, Haiti

After The Ringer resurfaced Richards’ comments, he apologized, saying in a statement to the website that there was no excuse for the comments he made on “The Randumb Show.”

“It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago,” he said in the statement.

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