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In today’s email:

  • ESPN wants in on gambling.
  • Feature: The business of Ouija boards.
  • Miss Universe has a new owner.
  • Around the Web: Counting actual sheep, a flight guessing game, college tunes, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Rob break down ESPN’s move into gambling, Waymo’s robot taxis taking over Arizona streets, Uber’s new ads, and more.

The big idea
ESPN logo

ESPN wants in on gambling

ESPN has long called itself the worldwide leader in sports, but thanks to a shifting sports media landscape, that nickname no longer rings true.

Young fans increasingly get their sports information from social media, and rather than just watch games, many are betting on them.

It appears ESPN wants in on the action. Last week, chairman Jimmy Pitaro confirmed the brand is mulling a deal with DraftKings, per Axios.

What kind of deal?

The companies already have a marketing deal in place that includes links to DraftKings’ sportsbooks from ESPN’s website. A licensing agreement would take that to the next level:

  • DraftKings could use the ESPN name, and integrate its bet odds on ESPN broadcasts for wider audience exposure.
  • ESPN could offer tighter integration with DraftKings’ sportsbook to eliminate friction for its betting audience.

But don’t expect to be able to gamble on ESPN’s properties…

… at least not yet

Disney has long forbidden casinos on its cruise ships, and has refused to license its characters on slot machines, per Fortune.

But the company seems to be warming up to sports gambling.

  • Disney acquired a stake in DraftKings when it took over 21st Century Fox in 2019.
  • CEO Bob Chapek recently admitted that gambling has become a big part of the sports lifestyle for younger fans.

Perhaps an ESPN-branded sportsbook at Epcot Center isn’t far off.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Cool: The Blockbuster Speakeasy is a pop-up bar opening in LA this month with a VHS-themed menu and nostalgic vibes that hark back to the video rental days.


Twitter’s new verification system will cost $8/mo., offering priority in replies and search, fewer ads, and other tools. Musk said the move is “essential to defeat spam/scam” and will help Twitter fund creators.

Whoa: Waymo is now offering autonomous taxi rides to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The US Treasury sold a record $979m of Series I bonds Friday, the last day to buy them at a 9.62% rate. The rate, tied to inflation, reset yesterday to 6.89%.

Parsons School of Design is partnering with Roblox on a metaverse fashion course.

Please do not: As Uber expands its ads division, it’s reportedly testing out push notification ads promoting other companies.

Disney will offer deals for toys and merchandise through the Disney+ app in an effort to integrate its streaming and merch businesses.

Amazon Music is now offering ad-free shuffle-play access to its expanded 100m-song catalog as part of a Prime membership.

Nope: A federal judge blocked Penguin Random House from buying Simon & Schuster over concerns of decreased competition in book sales.

Victoria’s Secret will buy Adore Me for $400m with plans to incorporate the D2C lingerie brand’s digital shopping experience.

Digital marketing how-tos: Peep Trends’ mega compilation of case studies on topics ranging from the keys to six-figure product launches to nailing TikTok ads.

Ouija board

The strange business history of the Ouija board

You might know the device pictured above as a Ouija board.

What you might not know is that Ouija is a brand, like Kleenex or Tupperware.

In time for Halloween, we traveled to Salem, Massachusetts — home to dozens of witchcraft shops, ghost tours, and “haunted” abodes — and peered into Ouija’s multimillion-dollar backstory.

  • What we discovered is a history stretching all the way back to the late 1800s, involving spooked-out patent clerks, accidental deaths, $100m+ films, and a game that at one point outsold Monopoly.

This is the story of how, thanks to the combined forces of spiritualism and capitalism, Ouija became the go-to for communing with the dead.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

Stop loafing — start completing projects

“Let’s get a rundown on this important project you’ve been working on.”

Don’t panic — that was practice.

But the next time we inquire, please don’t be huffing and bluffing. Just pull up this project management doc, where we’ve already tidied up targets and tasks for everyone’s convenience. Wow.

A simple, three-part PM template for:

  • Preplanning
  • Getting shit done
  • Analyzing afterward

Another freebie by HubSpot, for increased organization.

Project-pushing template →
Pageant Moves
Miss Universe

The future of Miss Universe

It’s unclear what the winner of the Miss Universe pageant receives, but it’s rumored to include a six-figure salary, a free apartment and travel, and numerous other perks.

The Miss Universe Organization was just bought by Thai entrepreneur Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip for $20m.

Previously, it was co-owned by Donald Trump, who sold it to events marketing company IMG Worldwide in 2015.


… is a transgender activist, TV personality, and CEO of JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd., a multinational conglomerate headquartered in Thailand with businesses across health and beauty, entertainment, advertising, and other sectors, per NPR.

Jakrajutatip said the acquisition was “a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio” that JKN will use to promote its many consumer products.

That’s a lot of eyeballs

While US viewership has been in decline, Miss Universe still nabs ~500m viewers across 190+ countries annually, per Reuters.

The Miss Universe Organization, which advertises itself as a “global, inclusive” organization where participants can affect positive change, may play to Jakrajutatip’s advocacy goals.

In 2018, it saw its first transgender contestant, Angela Ponce from Spain.

Fun fact: During her reign, Miss Universe gets to wear a $5m crown with 1.7k+ diamonds.

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📚 On this day: In 1960, a British jury acquitted Penguin Books of obscenity charges related to the publishing of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The novel sold 2m+ copies within a year.

🐑 That’s interesting: Inside Iceland’s rettir, a centuries-old custom that involves counting sheep.

🎵 That’s cool: A website for listening to college radio stations.

✈️ Cure boredom: This game requires you to correctly guess a flight’s origin and destination based on various clues.

🦁 Aww: And now, a furry roadblock.

Uber Mom Tweet

We’d use it, at least. (Follow us on Twitter.)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Mr. Universe” Dent.

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