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Why Jeopardy!’s Pick of Mike Richards as Frontrunner for Permanent Host Is the Wrong Choice, Explained

The news blindsided most fans online, leaving many in confusion and shock. The executive producer's history makes the choice even more confusing.

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Image for article titled Why Jeopardy!’s Pick of Mike Richards as Frontrunner for Permanent Host Is the Wrong Choice, Explained
Image: YouTube/Jeopardy!; Jason Kempin for Getty Images

On Wednesday, Jeopardy! announced the frontrunner for the permanent hosting gig of the long-running primetime game show and it’s none other than the show’s executive producer Mike Richards. *sad trombone*

Following the death of longtime host Alex Trebek, a slew of celebrity guest hosts have been trying their hands at the post with hopes of possibly taking over the highly coveted position on a permanent basis. There have been many viable and frankly, MORE PREFERABLE guests that have taken the famed Jeopardy! podium since, chief among them: LeVar Burton. Given the continual push, praise, and online petition to make him the next host, most online thought Burton was a shoo-in to land the gig.

So imagine nearly everyone’s surprise (read: outrage) when the good folks at Jeopardy! decided to push EP Richards as the top choice for the role. Per Variety, Richards is apparently in “advanced negotiations” to take the reins and—hold up, hold up. I am confusion. They picked WHO? In the spirit of Lauren Keyana Palmer: I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous but I don’t know who this man is. He could be walking down the street and I wouldn’t know a thing. Sorry (not sorry) to this man.

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This feels like that moment when you thought you were gonna get that long-awaited promotion at work, everyone’s excited for you, and the higher-ups are even treating you nicely. But then “Bill from Internal Affairs” gets it instead and everyone’s walking around with the “Nick Young meme face” because they don’t know shit about a Bill or an Internal Affairs department. I mean seriously, who TF is Bill?

But more importantly: Who TF is Mike Richards?

I’m so glad you asked.

In addition to NOT being LeVar Burton, Mike Richards is also the guy who apparently loves going to court over allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. According to CBS News, Richards—who served as one of the producers on The Price Is Right at the time—was named in a civil lawsuit filed by former The Price Is Right model Lanisha Cole in 2011. Per court documents, Cole claims she was wrongfully terminated, constantly humiliated and berated in front of her peers by Richards and an additional producer.

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More on the suit per CBS:

Cole started working as a model on “The Price Is Right” in 2003. She claims in the suit that the harassment started in Dec. 2009, when Richards began ignoring her and favoring another model he was having a relationship with. According to court papers obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Richards hindered Cole’s modeling work on the show by creating policies “which never before existed.” Cole also states that during an incident on Sept. 2010, Sandler stormed into her dressing room while she was topless and reprimanded her in front of the other models.

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Prior to that, Richards was named in yet another lawsuit filed by another former model who alleged gender-based discrimination after being fired shortly after giving birth to her first child. The Hollywood Reporter has more:

According to Cochran’s lawsuit, she observed the defendants [producers Kathy Greco and Mike Richards] harassing others who had gotten pregnant on the show and, as a result, delayed trying to conceive out of fear of losing her job. After she got pregnant in 2007, she said she didn’t tell her co-workers at first because she didn’t want to be fired.

Cochran alleged that another Price Is Right producer, Mike Richards, then didn’t talk to her as frequently and he implied to her that she would have been one of the models fired had the pregnancy not been secret. She also said she was pressured to announce her pregnancy on the air, and when she delivered the news that she was carrying twins, she was given less work. During this time, Cochran also claimed she was subject to jokes in the workplace from colleagues who made fun of her weight gain.

One of the twins died as a result of a miscarriage; the other was born three months premature with pulmonary problems. Cochran says she was extremely stressed after the birth, caring for her newborn’s special needs and, at the same time, trying to lose weight to get back to work. But Cochran alleged that producers sent her mixed signals about whether she would be allowed to return. She later discovered that she had been removed from the show’s website, then fired.

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Wow. Well class, what have we learned here today?

Not only is Mike Richards the whitest saltine cracker in the box, he’s also a guy who has VIP membership in the “Good Ol’ Boys Club”—so much so that he loves to have relationships with subordinates, harass women, and use his position and authority to discriminate against them. Hmm, sounds like someone else we know but I digress. Forget “sorry to this man”—we should all BOO THIS MAN.

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So who is Mike Richards, you ask?

What is, “definitely not LeVar Burton,” and he damn sure shouldn’t be the next host of Jeopardy!.