Jeopardy's Mike Richards 'Deeply Sorry' After Past Sexist Comments About Women Resurface
Mike Richards, the executive producer of Jeopardy! who was recently appointed as the game show's new host, has issued an apology after disparaging comments he made about women on a previous podcast were unearthed.
"It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago," Richards, 46, said in a statement provided to PEOPLE. "Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry."
"The podcast was intended to be a series of irreverent conversations between longtime friends who had a history of joking around. Even with the passage of time, it's more than clear that my attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable, and I have removed the episodes," the statement continued. "My responsibilities today as a father, husband, and a public personality who speaks to many people through my role on television means I have substantial and serious obligations as a role model, and I intend to live up to them."
For more on the controversy surrounding Mike Richards and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.
A spokesperson for Jeopardy! and Sony Pictures Television had no comment when reached by PEOPLE.
Richards hosted a podcast from 2013 to 2014 called The Randumb Show, which at the time was touted as a behind-the-scene look at his then-workplace The Price Is Right, according an article published by The Ringer on Wednesday.
Throughout the podcast's 41-episode run, from which the outlet recorded and published a series of audio clips, Richards made multiple inappropriate comments about women.
In one clip, taking from a 2014 episode, Richards called his podcast co-host and former assistant Beth Triffon a "booth ho" and a "booth slut" when discussing her work as a model at the CES trade show, The Ringer reported.
Another instance captured by The Ringer heard Richards calling Triffon's female friends "really frumpy and overweight" after seeing a photo of the women in their one-piece swimsuits at a lake. Despite Triffon saying that "no one's overweight" in the picture, Richards told his co-host, "They look fat and not good in the picture. It's bad."
In addition to offensive comments about women, The Ringer reported Richards used a derogatory term for little people and a slur for people with mental disabilities during conversations on the podcast.
He also made belittling remarks about people's economic status, according to clips published by The Ringer. When Triffon was discussing problems at her apartment on one episode, Richards reportedly said, "Does Beth live, like, in Haiti? Doesn't it sound like that? Like, the urine smell, the woman in the muumuu, the stray cats."
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.
After Triffon spoke about losing her job and qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits in another episode found by The Ringer, Richards told her, "The dangerous side about the crack that you just took is that not everyone is like you. But everyone can collect unemployment, which is why we have so many people on unemployment right now. Which is why we have so many people on food stamps. Because what if you got unemployment and food stamps? You'd be like, 'Good lord, I'm making—.' You know what I'm saying?"
On a later episode, The Ringer reported, Richards told Triffon that she was "perpetuating the circle" after she shared a story about giving an unhoused woman a dollar. "If you gave away money that was given to you by the government, that's the circle of no life," he said.
Richards was named Jeopardy!'s new permanent host last week, nine months after the death of longtime host Alex Trebek.
This is the second apology Richards has issued this month. Prior to the announcement of his Jeopardy! gig, he denied allegations of workplace discrimination during his time at The Price Is Right, including a claim that he allegedly told model Brandi Cochran when she revealed she was pregnant, "Go figure, I fire five models. What are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?"
Cochran sued the producers at FremantleMedia North America and The Price Is Right Productions in 2012, winning the suit to the tune of more than $7 million in damages. The decision was overturned the next year, Entertainment Weekly reported, and settled out of court.
Another suit — a wrongful constructive termination and retaliation lawsuit from Price is Right model Lanisha Cole in 2011 — accused Richards of treating Cole differently than the other models, causing her "great uncertainty" about her future on the show, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was later dismissed as a defendant and the case was settled out of court in 2013, the outlet reported.
"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 told Jeopardy staffers in a memo obtained by PEOPLE earlier this month.
Richards went on to say that the models' pregnancies were "embraced and celebrated."
"I know firsthand how special it is to be a parent. It is the most important thing in the world to me," he wrote. "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," the former producer continued. "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."
Jeopardy!'s 38th season premieres on Sept. 13.