The Hustle

Former president of ESPN says his abrupt exit was tied to an extortion attempt

John Skipper, the former president of ESPN who resigned without warning in December, says his decision to leave was prompted by an extortion attempt made by a cocaine dealer. In an interview, Skipper said he spoke with Bob Iger, the...


March 16, 2018

John Skipper, the former president of ESPN who resigned without warning in December, says his decision to leave was prompted by an extortion attempt made by a cocaine dealer.

In an interview, Skipper said he spoke with Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney (ESPN’s parent company), and both agreed he put the company in an “untenable” position and had to resign.

Guy buys cocaine once…

While Skipper maintains his cocaine use never hindered his 20-year performance at ESPN (other than a few rescheduled meetings), he admitted his nose had a familiar relationship with the booger sugar over the course of his life.

Though, he said the instance that led to his extortion was the one time he wasn’t “careful” about who he purchased his cocaine from.

His exit came a few days after Disney agreed to buy $52.4B of assets from Fox (including 22 regional sports networks), and the announcement of ESPN’s new streaming service.

ESPN has been struggling for a while

The network had a rough 2017, beset with layoffs and numerous political controversies — but their struggles long precede last year.

With cord-cutting, rising programming costs, and a fractured relationship with the NFL, the network was really feeling the pinch of the ever-changing TV landscape under Skipper’s watch.

Nonetheless, Skipper was highly respected around ESPN, and many of his colleagues are reportedly devastated by his departure.

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