Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards, currently the frontrunner for the role of the show’s host, responded to allegations of pregnancy discrimination Monday related to a lawsuit from 10 years ago. Richards — who would be filling the shoes of Alex Trebek, who died in November 2020 — was named in a pair of lawsuits by Price Is Right models back in 2010 (per Variety).
Ex-Price Is Right model Brandi Cochran accused Richards of firing her after she became pregnant, while Lanisha Cole also claimed she had been wrongfully terminated and harassed. Richards was dismissed from Cole’s suit and the case was settled out of court, while Cochran’s suit against producer FremantleMedia, Richards, and others made its way to trial, where the jury awarded her $8 million in damages. The decision was overturned in 2014 on appeal and an agreement was reached by both sides. (A representative for Cochran did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)
Richards responded to both his possible new role and the lawsuit in a memo to show employees Monday. “These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show,” he wrote. “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. 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.”
Price Is Right host Drew Carey came out in support of Richards this past weekend: “Every TPIR model since I started got pregnant and he built whole season arcs celebrating them. We even had Baby Shower shows for crying out loud. They weren’t even allowed to talk to me before Mike came on the show.”
“He took them from just bodies on the stage to actual people that audiences could get to know as part of the TPIR family,” he added. “He’s great. And I hope he gets to be the next Jeopardy host too.”