Former ESPN President John Skipper revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the reason for his shocking December resignation was an extortion plot by his cocaine dealer.
Skipper suddenly announced his resignation from ESPN just days after leading a companywide meeting about the future of the network. At the time, he cited substance abuse issues, but did not elaborate.
In the interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, Skipper was initially reluctant to detail why he resigned.
Even after admitting he was an infrequent cocaine user, he said it had never interfered with his professional life. After the interviewer, James Andrew Miller, pressed him, Skipper finally revealed the real issue.
“In December, someone from whom I bought cocaine attempted to extort me,” Skipper said.
'They threatened me' in extortion attempt
Skipper said he was attempting to buy cocaine from someone he had never dealt with before, and he wasn’t careful about it like he said he always had been in the past, and that person tried to extort him.
“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 [Disney CEO Bob Iger], he and I agreed that I had placed the company in an untenable position and as a result, I should resign.”
Skipper said that was the moment he realized he had a substance abuse problem, which he has since sought treatment for. He was replaced by Jimmy Pitaro at ESPN.
Skipper, 62, had worked at ESPN for 27 years, becoming the company's president in 2012.
"Right now, I enjoy the great luxury of time and being able to only do things I want to do, with people I want to do them with," he said. "But I find myself impatient. I’d like to get back in and do some things that matter."