Major ESPN Scam Exposed!

ESPN Emmys Scam
Credit: Disney

Every year, Hollywood has its “award season”, when there are around 24 award ceremonies. Hollywood talent is honored for their work in front of and behind the camera. Award season encompasses everything from the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards, the Emmys, the Grammys, the SAG Awards, and more.

Emmy Awards

Credit: NATAS

The Emmys honors those who have achieved excellence in television, and this year’s award ceremony is scheduled to take place on January 15. And just days before the ceremony, we have learned of a major Emmy scandal that has been taking place for years.

According to a report from TheWrap, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences discovered that ESPN — which is owned by Disney — has been submitting fake names to the Academy. Then, when the Emmy wins were secured, ESPN had the statuettes re-engraved and given to on-air personalities. The on-air personalities were not originally given the prestigious award because they were ineligible to receive it.


Credit: ESPN

Per TheWrap:

The crux of the scheme was that on-air talent was prohibited by NATAS from being awarded the outstanding weekly studio show prize, to prevent “double-dipping” with those eligible for individual awards. EPSN went around the barrier by submitting faux names into the credit list of “College GameDay.” 

The scheme was initially uncovered by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), the organization that puts on the awards presentations. The situation was investigated once uncovered, resulting in sanctions that don’t simply include the statuettes’ return. 

ESPN college gameday

Credit: ESPN

Related: Dwayne Johnson Stunned Everyone on ESPN’s College GameDay

The NATAS has not determined which ESPN executives were responsible for the creation of the scheme, which dates all the way back to 2007, or possibly even 1997. However, ESPN Vice President Craig Lazarus and Senior Vice President Lee Fitting have both been banned from participating in the Emmys in the future. Both men worked on ESPN’s hit show, College GameDay.

Lee Fitting left ESPN in August 2023.

Lee Fitting ESPN

Credit: ESPN

After the scam was revealed, ESPN released a statement to TheWrap.

“Some members of our team were clearly wrong in submitting certain names going back to 2007 (or that MAY go back to 1997) in Emmy categories where they were not eligible for recognition or statuettes. This was a misguided attempt to recognize on-air individuals who were important members of our production team.

“Once current leadership was made aware, we apologized to NATAS for violating guidelines and worked closely with them to completely overhaul our submission process to safeguard against anything like this happening again,”


Credit: ESPN

It is important to note that, according to ESPN, none of the on-air personalities were aware of the scheme that was going on. They thought they had received them legitimately. Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard, Samantha Ponder, and Shelley Smith were just a few of the personalities who had to return the ill-gotten statuettes. Some had to return more than one.

Disney has owned ESPN since 1995, and the network is one of the biggest names in sports programming. It is known for hit shows like Around the Horn, NFL Monday Night Football, SportsCenter, and College GameDay.


Credit: ESPN

Related: Disney Exec Accused of Sabotage After Lawsuit Threat

This is not the only controversy at the network that is currently making headlines. Recently, The Pat McAfee Show stirred up a lot of trouble when New York Jets star Aaron Rodgers accused late-night host Jimmy Kimmel of being on Jeffrey Epstein’s list of adult men who slept with young, sometimes underage, women.

Kimmel blasted Rodgers, claiming that he had never met Jeffrey Epstein. He also threatened to sue Rodgers, and McAfee made a public apology on his show the next day.

What do you think of the scandal? Do you think Disney knew? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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