Today’s Jeopardy Daily Double: ‘Who is Mike Richards?’

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In the long-running and much-loved game show Jeopardy, the Daily Double is a popular question which, answered correctly, could double a contestant’s earnings.

But if you’re former Jeopardy host and executive producer Mike Richards, you may wonder if the answer to “Who is Mike Richards” hasn’t gotten lost in a groundswell of public controversy.

The Backstory

Mike Richards is one of television’s most experienced and highly rated executive producers. In 2020, he was named as executive producer of Jeopardy, adding to his career credits as successful executive producer of CBS’s “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.” In addition, he was a popular host of successful shows like “Beauty and The Geek” and the 2012 revival of “The Pyramid.”

In August 2021, Richards was named temporary host of Jeopardy after the passing of long time icon/host Alex Trebek. Initially, Jeopardy fans responded favorably to his performances, according to WPST.com. “Jeopardy fans don’t want him to stay as the permanent host because he’s a hottie; they actually, genuinely, like him as a host.”

Shortly after, however, Richards stepped down as both Jeopardy host and executive producer due to certain ill-advised comments made on a personal podcast. He apologized to both co-workers and fans for his comments, declaring that remaining with the show would not have been in the show’s best interests.

What’s Getting Lost

The interesting part of the story –and the one that seems to be getting lost in the media—is that, apart from the jokes he made that may have been inappropriate, Mike seemed everything that Jeopardy owner Sony Pictures Television was looking for.

Sony wanted another Alex Trebek. It was he who held the show together for 36 years. Alex was that warm, engaging and self-deprecating host who always made the contestants the stars of the show. When Trebek passed away, Sony launched a rash of trial hosts.

Candidates included celebrities like LeVar Burton, Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Katie Couric, Aaron Rogers—and eventually, Mike Richards himself.

Focus groups were brought in to grade each candidate, and Mike reportedly received high grades and accolades from the Jeopardy fans. They liked how he engaged with the contestants and how he smoothly handled the show’s transitions and procedures. They responded favorably to his warmth, humor and professionalism. He was likable, and that’s what Jeopardy fans were demanding in their next host.

Mike made the show about the contestants rather than about the celebrity of the host. He was very similar to Trebek like fans wanted, and they were thrilled to have him.

Sony apparently agreed. Ravi Ahuja, chairman of global television studios and corporate development for Sony pictures reported that the decision to hire Mike as host was heavily vetted. The studio appeared to have chosen him as a neutral personality over celebrities who might have taken the focus away from the contestants. His calm personality was just the right balance to the show’s fast-paced, rapid-fire format.

Naturally, there’s still lots of controversy over who might be, or could have been, the best replacement for Alex Trebek. Some fans still strongly promote LaVar Burton, others were tickled to see Aaron Rogers out of his Green Bay Packer uniform and in civvies, and holding his own in the Jeopardy spotlight.

But it was Mike Richards, a man not only with a personality similar to the irreplaceable Trebek, but with deep, hands-on experience in television’s game show genre, who was ultimately chosen.

He was, Sony believed, the perfect host for one of the most popular game shows of all time. He was the ideal Alex Trebek successor. But alas, it was not to be, as a certain sector of people cannot see beyond any mistakes in a person’s past. Unfortunately, social media and the internet has run amok with people trying to tear down anyone they disagree with. Sad really, no one is perfect.

If this was the answer to the Daily Double, your response should be: “Who is Mike Richards?”

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