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The Truth About Jeopardy! Host Front-Runner Mike Richards

It still doesn't feel real that Alex Trebek is no longer with us.

The long-serving "Jeopardy!" host died on November 8, 2020. He was an iconic television personality known for his quick retorts and professional grace. When people thought of expansive knowledge and trivia tidbits, their first thoughts often went to Trebek. Even though episodes starring him continued to come out after his death, there was still the lingering question of who would take his place. 

For the first half of 2021, producers brought in a slew of guest hosts to see who could fill Trebek's mighty shoes. The big names who have become involved in trivia the last few months include former "Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings, media personality Robin Roberts, and former "Star Trek" actor LeVar Burton. They all had their fans, but it seems like those in charge of the big decisions at "Jeopardy!" may have landed on their final answer — Mike Richards (via Variety).

He's been an executive producer on "Jeopardy!" for years now, and he's worked on various other game shows in the past, like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right." He's practically game show royalty, and you may see a lot more of him in the years to come. Here's everything you need to know about Mike Richards.

Mike Richards is no stranger to hosting game shows

For the most part, Mike Richards has remained behind the scenes throughout his extensive career in entertainment. Most recently, he's been an executive producer for "Jeopardy!," "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?," and "Wheel of Fortune." Many people may have seen him for the first time when he hosted "Jeopardy!" back in February and March 2021. According to the report from Variety, Richards had some of the most-watched episodes throughout the guest hosting experiment, which likely played a role in the show offering him the gig.

However, Richards is a natural in front of the camera. He's hosted numerous game shows in the past, including "Divided," 2012's "The Pyramid," and "Beauty and the Geek." He's been a prominent force in the genre for well over two decades at this point, and having friends in high places undoubtedly helped him when it came time to choose a new "Jeopardy!" host.

He tried (but failed) to be the new host of The Price is Right

Game show hosts come and go. Before Alex Trebek passed away, Bob Barker decided to step down as "The Price is Right" host in 2007. Barker went on to say that the reason he stepped down is he wanted to retire while he was still relatively young and enjoy some of his golden years without working all of the time. Drew Carey landed the gig, but there was a ton of consideration for that role as well, and Mike Richards' name was also in the mix that time around. 

According to Forbes, Richards auditioned to be the new host. No word on why he was passed over for the job, but most would agree Drew Carey has been phenomenal in the role. 

At least Richards is in good company for failed "The Price is Right" hosts. Reports from over a decade ago indicate Rosie O'Donnell was under consideration to take the role, but for whatever reason, negotiations broke down (via Today). It turned out to be good news for Drew Carey, and Richards would get his day in the sun once again ... provided talks go his way.

Mike Richards has employment discrimination lawsuits in his past

Mike Richards' hopes of becoming the new host of "Jeopardy!" may come down to what surfaces regarding his previous lawsuits. Entertainment Weekly details allegations that first emerged when Richards worked on "The Price is Right" years ago. The case dates back to 2010 when model Brandi Cochran alleged how CBS, FremantleMedia, and producers on the game show, including Richards, discriminated against her when she became pregnant. The allegations continue with a complaint stating how Richards would make models wear bikinis more frequently on the show and request shorter skirts for models.

Model Lanisha Cole filed a similar lawsuit in 2011, which also detailed wrongful termination and sexual harassment. While that suit settled in 2013, the court dismissed Richards as a defendant before the ruling. 

It's unclear how this murky past will impact his contention for the new "Jeopardy!" host if it does anything. But those behind the scenes are undoubtedly figuring out Richards' role in past discrimination suits and weighing all of their options before hiring anyone for the gig.

Mike Richards has been a fan of Jeopardy! since he was a child

Mike Richards clearly has a passion for game shows, seeing how he's worked on some of the biggest ones of the 21st century. It wasn't an accident he ended up in a prime position to host "Jeopardy!" In an exclusive interview with Parade, the executive producer revealed that his love for the show dates back decades. 

When asked to comment about a story of how he wanted to be a contestant on "Jeopardy!" when he was a little boy, Richards responded, "My emotions towards the show haven't changed. I am still as blown away by the contestants as I was then. It made me have that craving to be smart. Of course, I tried to figure out the clues, but as a kid, it is really tough. I love watching my kids get one or two right in an episode that directly relates to something they learned in school. It validates their hard work."

If producers are still on the fence about who to give the job to, we might suggest having a battle of the brains where Richards, LeVar Burton, and Ken Jennings answer trivia. Whoever wins becomes the new host. It sounds pretty fair.

Mike Richards wasn't prepared at all to guest host Jeopardy!

On paper, Mike Richards is the perfect person to host "Jeopardy!" He's already affiliated with the series, and he's hosted other game shows in the past. Everything makes sense for him to take over the reins eventually, but that didn't make it any more of a shock when Richards received word he was supposed to host "Jeopardy!" as a guest.

Richards discussed his guest hosting duties to USA Today, and he mentioned, "I didn't know I was going to be doing it until three days before, and so I had not prepared myself to host in the way that I know other guest hosts are. So there was just a lot to unpack. Plus, I also only owned one suit, so there was a little bit of scrambling there."

Through it all, Richards never lost sight of the immeasurable talent that was gone from the world. He also stated, "At every commercial break, as I stepped back, I would think of Alex, who he was, how great he was, and it was easy to get in your head that way." Whether Richards or someone else ends up with the gig, we know whoever it is will make Alex Trebek proud.