ESPN forced to return 37 ill-gotten Emmy awards

by WorldTribune Staff, January 14, 2024

ESPN has been ordered to return 37 Emmy awards the sports network received under false pretenses.

For 13 years, ESPN committed “fraud” by submitting fake names to the credit list for the Emmys, according to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS).

“Since at least 2010 … ESPN took the awards won by some of those imaginary individuals, had them re-engraved, and gave them to on-air personalities,” The Athletic reported on Thursday.

ESPN gave some of the re-engraved trophies to front-facing figures on “College GameDay,” such as Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard, and Sam Ponder.

The report claims the on-air personalities were not aware of the scheme as ESPN higher ups convinced them they had won the awards containing their names.

Eventually, NATAS ordered ESPN to return the ill-gotten Emmys, each of which was intended for a behind-the-scenes employee who does not exist.

Former ESPN reporter Shelley Smith recalled that, in May of 2023, executive Stephanie Druley ordered her to return two sports Emmy statuettes.

“I think it was really crummy what they did to me and others,” Smith, who ESPN laid off last year, told The New York Times.

As part of the punishment, NATAS also ruled ESPN executive Craig Lazarus and former executive Lee Fitting ineligible for future Emmys.

The New York Post reported on Thursday that the name-changing scheme was a factor in Fitting’s dismissal.

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