The executive producer of "Jeopardy!" issued an internal memo to the show's staff Monday responding to the reports of him potentially being the permanent successor to Alex Trebek as host and addressing past harassment and discrimination lawsuits from his time at "The Price is Right" that have resurfaced.
Mike Richards acknowledged that he has been asked if he is interested in hosting the show, but no decision has been made.
"Recently, 'Jeopardy!,' our host search and the possibility of me hosting has been all over the news," he wrote in the memo. "I want to take a moment so that you can hear directly from me. The last year has been the most challenging in the history of the show. I know we are all still dealing with the loss of our hero, Alex, while at the same time continuing to produce amazing shows for our millions of fans through the pandemic."
A report by Variety earlier this month said Richards, 46, was in advanced negotiations for the coveted job. The show has been using a series of guest hosts, including Richards, since Trebek's death last year.
"It is true that I was asked if I would consider hosting the show," he continued. "I was humbled and deeply honored. No final decisions have been made and discussions with me and other potential hosts are still ongoing. I know I have mentioned this to you all before, but the choice on this is not my decision and never has been. Throughout this search, Sony’s top priority has always been to continue the incredible legacy you and Alex built. As you know, Alex always believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show, and that will continue to be the guiding principle as the decision is finalized."
Many "Jeopardy!" fans expressed their displeasure over the report that Richards is the front-runner to replace Trebek, who died at 80 in November 2020 after hosting more than 8,000 episodes.
“A: Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Me. Q: What is the process that Jeopardy Executive Producer Mike Richards used when choosing Mike Richards as the new host?” one person tweeted.
Richards was the second guest host after legendary "Jeopardy!" contestant Ken Jennings and was followed by a group that included TODAY's own Savannah Guthrie as well NFL star Aaron Rodgers, actor Mayim Bialik and actor/host LeVar Burton.
Richards also made his first public comments about lawsuits stemming from his time as a producer at another game show, "The Price is Right." Separate lawsuits filed by former models Brandi Cochran and Lanisha Cole, both of which ultimately did not name him as a defendant, said he treated them differently than other models.
Cochran claimed that Richards treated her differently after she announced that she was pregnant, resulting in a loss of work, according to The Daily Beast. Cole accused Richards of not even speaking to her on set and giving notes to other models to pass to Cole, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Jeopardy!" recently declined to comment to NBC News on the allegations made against Richards in the lawsuits. Richards was not available to comment.
"I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at 'The Price is Right' ten years ago," Richards wrote in his memo. "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.
"I am very proud of my time on 'The Price Is Right' and 'Let’s Make a Deal.' During my tenure, our female cast members welcomed seven beautiful children. We embraced and celebrated each pregnancy and birth both in front of and behind the camera. It was a joy to watch their families grow and highlight their happiness as part of the show."