‘Jeopardy!’ Champion James Holzhauer Blasts Ousted Host Mike Richards

James Holzhauer and Mike Richards Jeopardy!
Jeopardy!, Inc.

One of Jeopardy!‘s most revered champions, James Holzhauer, is weighing on on Mike Richards being fired from the longtime quiz show — and he has some strong feelings about the former executive producer.

The second highest-earning Jeopardy! contestant of all-time in regular play, Holzhauer is best known for his impressive 32-game winning streak from April to June 2019 and winning the Tournament of Champions that November. He also finished runner-up in 2020’s Greatest of All Time Tournament, bringing his total earnings to $2,964,216 and placing him as the third highest-earning American game show contestant ever behind Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Taking to Twitter on Monday, Holzhauer touched on the latest development in the ongoing Richards controversy, which saw the disgraced host fired from his role as exec producer on both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Richards had faced backlash after The Ringer published a report detailing insensitive comments the producer had made in a 2013 podcast.

“Do I think Mike Richards’s podcast comments were appropriate for polite society? No,” tweeted Holzhauer. “But did he deserve the benefit of the doubt for the job he did running Jeopardy? Also no.” He then tweeted a GIF of “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz.

He later followed up to explain that it wasn’t just the podcast comments that formed his opinion and that he had “formed a much stronger negative opinion” from how Richards “treated people backstage at Jeopardy.”

Suzanne Prete, Sony Pictures Television’s EVP of Business and Strategy for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, sent a memo to staff explaining the decision to remove Richards from his producer role. “I’m writing to let you know that Mike will no longer be serving as EP of Wheel and Jeopardy! effective immediately,” Prete’s letter began, according to Deadline.

It continued: “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. That clearly has not happened.”

Embassy Row’s Michael Davies is expected to help in the producing role on an interim basis. Meanwhile, The Big Bang Theory‘s Mayim Bialik, who will host spinoffs and specials, is stepping in as the regular Jeopardy! host until a new permanent host is found.

Jeopardy!, Weeknights, Check your local listings