Mike Richards, a man who’s currently the executive producer of Jeopardy! and public enemy No. 1 among viewers, has broken his silence about being the reported front-runner to replace Alex Trebek as host of the show. In a statement sent to Jeopardy! staffers on August 9 that has since been obtained by several entertainment journalists, Richards confirmed that, indeed, he’s emerged as a serious host contender. However, he refutes the claims that he has any power in appointing himself the position, as memorably executed years ago in the 2000 vice-presidential search and the hit NBC dramedy God Cop. “It is true that I was asked if I would consider hosting the show. 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,” Richards wrote. “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.”
Richards also addressed the “complicated employment issues” that have made waves in the press following rumors of his host ascension: In 2011, he was embroiled in a sexual-harassment lawsuit while working as a producer on The Price Is Right, although he was dismissed as a defendant before a settlement was reached. In 2010, a Price Is Right model also listed Richards in a lawsuit that alleged she was fired from the show due to pregnancy. A judge sided with the show in 2012, citing insufficient evidence. “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,” Richards wrote. “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 supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”
Richards concluded his statement by sharing excitement about “the days ahead as we get back into production.” Should he become the next host of Jeopardy!, he’ll beat out more popular (and recognizable) names that include Ken Jennings, LeVar Burton, and, well, every other guest host.