Jeopardy! Season 38 Opens with Pre-Recorded Episode Hosted by the Now-Ousted Mike Richards
Mike Richards stepped down as the new host of Jeopardy! after his past offensive comments resurfaced online
Jeopardy! season 38 has begun.
The first episode of the new season featured host Mike Richards, who stepped down from the position last month after his past offensive comments about women and other minority groups resurfaced online, amid other allegations.
Despite his departure, episodes that were taped during Richards' nine-day tenure as host — including Monday's premiere — are still airing as scheduled, Sony previously said.
At the beginning of the show, it was announced that former host Alex Trebek's family — including wife Jean, son Matt and daughter Emily and Nicky — dedicated the Jeopardy stage in Trebek's honor earlier that day.
"It will now forever be known as The Alex Trebek Stage," the announcer said while the camera panned to a plaque naming the stage.
"We are in the presence of a champion in the midst of a historic run," Richards said, after first being introduced as the game show's host. "Matt Amodio is the third-hight Jeopardy money winner in regular season play ... For the first time from The Alex Trebek Stage, let's play Jeopardy."
Sony announced on Aug. 11 that Richards had been selected as the new permanent host of the daily syndicated game show, 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 would exit the show after his disparaging comments 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."
In addition to stepping down as host, Richards has been ousted as the executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, Suzanne Prete, the executive vice president of business and strategy for the two shows, announced in a letter sent to staff on Aug. 31.
"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."
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Richards also previously faced allegations of workplace discrimination during his time at The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal. Accusations of pregnancy discrimination arose in two complaints filed by former models on the shows. Richards was not personally named in the lawsuits, which were filed against CBS and producer Fremantle Media.
"These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show," Richards previously wrote in the staff letter addressing the allegations. "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."
In the wake of Richards' exit, Big Bang Theory alum and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik — who was announced as the host for the Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series in August — will fill in temporarily. Additional guest hosts will be announced as production continues.
Jeopardy! airs weekdays (check local listings).