‘Jeopardy!’ host front-runner denies discrimination claims: Not ‘who I am’

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Mike Richards, the rumored new “Jeopardy!” host as well as the game show’s resident executive producer, has spoken out about his role in past discrimination lawsuits from a decade ago.

Richards, 46, was previously an executive producer on “The Price is Right” when the CBS show was slapped with two bias suits in 2010 and 2011. In an office memo allegedly sent to his staff Monday morning, Richards confirmed reports he was the frontrunner to be the permanent “Jeopardy” host and discussed his role in the lawsuits.

“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at ‘The Price is Right’ ten years ago. These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show,” the father of two wrote in the memo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“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,’” he continued. “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 always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.”

In 2010, former model Brandi Cochran won more than $8.5 million in punitive damages from “The Price is Right” after it was ruled the show discriminated against her because she was pregnant.

Richards’ memo continued, “I am very proud of my time on ‘The Price Is Right’ and ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ 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.”

In 2011, model Lanisha Cole, also sued the game show for sexual harassment. She alleged that Richards and another producer were verbally abusive to her on set. Richards was dismissed in that lawsuit in April 2013 and the issue was settled one month later.

In Monday’s memo, Richards also acknowledged that he is among those in negotiations to take over as “Jeopardy!” host.

“It is true that I was asked if I would consider hosting the show. I was humbled and deeply honored,” he said. “No final decisions have been made and discussions with me and other potential hosts are still ongoing.”

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