Former ESPN president says he left network due to cocaine extortion

Former ESPN president says he left network due to cocaine extortion
Posted at 9:50 AM, Mar 15, 2018

Former ESPN president John Skipper says he abruptly resigned from the network late last year because he was being extorted by a cocaine dealer.

In an in-depth interview with The Hollywood Report's James Andrew Miller, Skipper recounted his substance abuse issues and the decision to leave the network.

Skipper told Miller that he used cocaine intermittently throughout his professional life. He says the habit began before he joined ESPN in 1997, but maintained that his drug use never interfered with his work, outside of "a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments."

Skipper also said he was "unusually clever" in finding ways to buy cocaine so as not to attract attention to himself. That changed in December, when he says someone he had not dealt with before attempted to extort him for purchasing drugs.

"It turned out I wasn’t careful this time," Skipper told Miller.

Skipper immediately informed Disney CEO Bob Iger of the threat.

"When I discussed it with Bob, he and I agreed that I had placed the company in an untenable position and as a result, I should resign," Skipper told Miller.

On Dec. 18, Skipper shocked ESPN employees by announcing his resignation, citing substance abuse issues. He later checked himself into a facility for therapy for his substance abuse.

ESPN named Jimmy Pitaro as Skipper's replacement earlier this month.

Read The Hollywood Reporter's full interview here.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.