'Jeopardy!' Exec Mike Richards Addresses Discrimination Lawsuits Ahead of Hosting Job

'Jeopardy!' Exec Mike Richards Addresses Discrimination Lawsuits Ahead of Hosting Job
Photo: Jeopardy!
Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards is currently — and somewhat controversially — the frontrunner to succeed the late, great Alex Trebek as host of the staple game show. However, Richards was forced to address his complicated employment history in a memo to Jeopardy! staff today after a series of decade-old lawsuits alleging discrimination recently resurfaced.

In a new statement [via TVLine], he wrote:

I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago. These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that 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 know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me. I would not say anything to disrespect anyone's pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.

Richards was co-executive producer/executive producer of The Price Is Right for more than a decade. During his time there, he was implicated in discrimination lawsuits by former models on the show, including a 2010 complaint by Brandi Cochran.

The case was eventually settled after an appeal, and Cochran was awarded $8.5 million USD. A second lawsuit with another model was also settled. Richards was featured in both lawsuits but was only named as a defendant in the second. He was later removed.

One of the most serious allegations from Cochran regarded insensitive comments about pregnant women allegedly made by Richards.

It's unclear how the lawsuits' resurfacing will affect Richards' run for host.

Meanwhile, viewers have reacted with disappointment and disbelief that Jeopardy!'s own executive producer would land the role as permanent host over LeVar Burton, who guest-hosted the show late last month.