Former Jeopardy! Champion James Holzhauer Celebrates Mike Richards' Exit as Executive Producer
Holzhauer, who is best known for his 32-game winning streak in 2019, publicly slammed Richards following the news of the TV producer's departure on Tuesday.
He tweeted, "Do I think Mike Richards's podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No. But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy!? Also no."
After his initial comments, Holzhauer also posted a GIF of "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz.
Suzanne Prete, the executive vice president of business and strategy for Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, announced the news of Richards' departure in a letter sent to staff earlier in the day — noting that Richards' exit is "effective immediately."
The announcement comes after Richards, 46, stepped down as the new host of Jeopardy! amid a series of scandals.
"We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at Jeopardy! it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks," Prete wrote in the letter, obtained by PEOPLE. "That clearly has not happened."
Sony announced on Aug. 11 that Richards had been selected as the new permanent host of the long-running series, about nine months after the death of beloved longtime host Alex Trebek. Just over a week later, however, he told staffers in a memo obtained by PEOPLE that he was stepping down after disparaging comments he previously made about women and other marginalized groups resurfaced.
The comments were made on a podcast the TV producer hosted from 2013 to 2014 called The Randumb Show, which at the time was touted as a behind-the-scenes look at his then-workplace The Price Is Right, according to an article published by The Ringer on Aug. 18.
Richards apologized in a statement obtained by PEOPLE prior to the news of his exit, saying in part, "It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago."
He added: "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."
Richards previously faced allegations of workplace discrimination during his time at The Price Is Right, where he worked before arriving at Jeopardy! He has denied those claims.
He was named in a wrongful constructive termination and retaliation lawsuit too while working at The Price Is Right, but was later dismissed as a defendant.
"These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show," Richards previously wrote in the staff letter. "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."
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In the wake of Richards' exit, Big Bang Theory alum and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik — who was announced as the host of Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series earlier this month — will fill in temporarily. Additional guest hosts will be announced as production continues.
Episodes that were taped during Richards' nine-day tenure as host will still air, Sony has said.
The new season of Jeopardy! premieres Sep. 13 on ABC.