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The Former Head Of ESPN Resigned Because He Was Blackmailed For Buying Cocaine

“They threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well,” John Skipper said.

Posted on March 15, 2018, at 12:15 p.m. ET

Back in December, John Skipper unexpectedly resigned as president of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. In an email to employees, Skipper cited a “substance addiction” as the reason for his resignation.

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” he wrote in a statement.
Rob Loud / Getty Images

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” he wrote in a statement.

And now in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Skipper said he made the decision to leave ESPN after someone who sold him cocaine threatened to extort him.

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

“They threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well,” Skipper said.

“I foreclosed that possibility by disclosing the details to my family, and then when I discussed it with Bob [Iger, CEO of ESPN parent company Disney], he and I agreed that I had placed the company in an untenable position and as a result, I should resign.”

The former ESPN chief said he was a casual cocaine user and that he never used the drug while on the job or with any fellow employees.

“I never allowed it to interfere with my work, other than a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments. I’ve never been a daily user. My use over the past two decades has, in fact, been quite infrequent,” Skipper said. “I judge that I did a very good job and that it did not get in the way of my work. I worked hard, I worked smart. I worked all the time.”
Anna Webber / Getty Images

“I never allowed it to interfere with my work, other than a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments. I’ve never been a daily user. My use over the past two decades has, in fact, been quite infrequent,” Skipper said. “I judge that I did a very good job and that it did not get in the way of my work. I worked hard, I worked smart. I worked all the time.”

“Look, it was inappropriate for the president of ESPN and an officer of The Walt Disney Co. to be associated in any way with any of this,” Skipper said. “I do want to make it clear, however, that anything I did in this regard, and anything else resulting from this, was a personal problem.”

“My drug use never had any professional repercussions, but I still have profound regret,” Skipper added. “I accept that the consequences of my actions are my responsibility and have been appropriate. I also have to accept that I used very poor judgment.”
Cooper Neill / Getty Images

“My drug use never had any professional repercussions, but I still have profound regret,” Skipper added. “I accept that the consequences of my actions are my responsibility and have been appropriate. I also have to accept that I used very poor judgment.”

CORRECTION

Bob Iger is the CEO of Disney. An earlier version of this post misstated his job title.

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