Years before you likely started reading this website, Deadspin extensively covered ESPN’s “horndoggery” era, one filled with illicit sex and affairs and rumors and scandals that finally more or less came to an end after some harsh words from the company’s then-president.
An analysis of data released in last week’s Ashley Madison hack reveals all those bottled-up energies finding, or at least attempting to find, an outlet. We’ve already noted here that we’ve found 39 Ashley Madison accounts that were registered with an ESPN email address, but by searching instead for accounts that were using a known (per publicly-available registries) ESPN IP address at the time of signup we found many, many more.
How many? 101, to be specific—with dozens of them highly influential executives, vice-presidents, and producers. ESPN employees responsible for such popular programming as SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown took time out from work to sign up for the cheating-oriented dating service, as did powerful senior finance directors, marketing higher-ups, and assistants to that same ESPN president who vowed to end the Bristol campus’s culture of extramarital adventuring.
Interestingly, female ESPN employees make up a substantial percentage of the list. While only 5% of Ashley Madison’s users are women, we found that fully 20% of identifiable ESPN signups came from women.
Of course, it would be unfair to state outright that a given Ashley Madison user is there seeking an illicit affair, even if the site advertises itself for that very purpose. (At least one prominent ESPNer informed profile viewers that his wife knew he was registered for the service.) And fewer than 20% of those who signed up for Ashley Madison from ESPN’s computer network ever paid the company money. Still, some have used the site intently, with one ESPN producer who professed to be looking for a “cougar” spending more than $2,000 on the service, according to leaked credit card data. Whether he obtained satisfaction is unknown.
ESPN says about 4,000 employees work out of its Bristol headquarters.