ESPN Pulls DraftKings Sponsored Ads After Insider Trading Scandal
Publicist Justine Sacco, who famously lost a PR job in 2013 over a controversial AIDS joke tweet, is spokeswoman for one of the companies under scrutiny.
ESPN on Tuesday removed sponsored content for DraftKings from its programs on the heels of allegations of insider trading within the fantasy sports company.
"It is a standard procedure for us to pull these kind of sponsorships and integrations when we are covering significant news, to avoid any suggestion of influence on our coverage," ESPN said in a statement.
The situation is being monitored "day-to-day," an ESPN spokeswoman told THR.
DraftKings as well as its competitor FanDuel are being scrutinized after an employee of DraftKings won $350,000 on FanDuel thanks largely to information that was not available to the public, according to numerous reports.
The fantasy sports sites allow participants to build teams with players they believe will score the most points and then enter assorted contests at different price ranges. Whoever has the most points after all the week's games, wins the largest amount of the pot.
“It is absolutely akin to insider trading,” Daniel Wallach, a sports and gambling lawyer based in Florida told the New York Times. “It gives that person a distinct edge in a contest.”
FanDuel & DraftKings employees previously were banned from playing on their own sites, but could play on others.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 6, 2015
Justine Sacco, the spokeswoman for FanDuel, has also become a part of the story. Sacco made headlines when in 2013 while working for Barry Diller’s media company IAC she tweeted a joke about AIDS which inspired viral outrage.
She did not respond request for comment from THR on that specific issue, but said in a statement to the New York Post: "The issues facing this company have nothing to do with my personal history or events I have previously acknowledged and apologized for."
DraftKings issued a statement addressing the insider scandal on its site:
"Nothing is more important to DraftKings and FanDuel than the integrity of the games we offer to our customers. Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs. Employees with access to this data are rigorously monitored by internal fraud control teams, and we have no evidence that anyone has misused it. However, we continue to review our internal controls to ensure they are as strong as they can be. We also plan to work with the entire fantasy sports industry on this specific issue so that fans everywhere can continue to enjoy and trust the games they love."