ESPN Used Fake Name Scheme To Fraudulently Obtain Emmy Awards For Top Talent: Report
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: An ESPN game day logo is displayed at the Capital One Orange Bowl game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A report released last week revealed that ESPN has been forced to return sports Emmy statuettes that it has given out to some of its top stars after the network used a fake name scheme to fraudulently obtain the awards for top talent who were not eligible.

The Athletic reported that the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) uncovered “a scheme that the network used to acquire more than 30 of the coveted statuettes for on-air talent ineligible to receive them” that involved submitting fake names in Emmy entries.

ESPN took the awards doled out to the fictitious individuals and then “had them re-engraved and gave them to on-air personalities,” the report said.

Some of the top on-air talent whom ESPN gave the Emmys to included Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard, and others.

There was no evidence that any of the recipients of the fraudulent Emmys had any idea that they were ill-gotten, the report said.

“Some members of our team were clearly wrong in submitting certain names that may go back to 1997 in Emmy categories where they were not eligible for recognition or statuettes,” ESPN said in a statement. “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.”

The network said it hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation, and those responsible were held accountable.


The scheme was allegedly implemented because on-air talent for the network’s wildly popular “College GameDay” was ineligible by NATAS guidelines from being able to win a trophy for outstanding weekly studio show because they were eligible to win Emmys in individual categories, like outstanding host or studio analyst.

The Athletic reviewed the fake names that ESPN submitted over a span of nearly ten years in which names were submitted that were close to the names of those to whom ESPN later gave the Emmy. Examples included Kirk Henry (Kirk Herbstreit), Lee Clark (Lee Corso), Dirk Howard (Desmond Howard), Tim Richard (Tom Rinaldi), Steven Ponder (Sam Ponder), Gene Wilson (Gene Wojciechowski), Chris Fulton (Chris Fowler) and Shelley Saunders (Shelley Smith).

One person involved in the ESPN Emmy submission process in recent years said that the network did it because the on-air personalities were “so important, and they have egos.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ESPN Used Fake Name Scheme To Fraudulently Obtain Emmy Awards For Top Talent: Report