Ariel Helwani left ESPN a month ago, despite an offer (with a pay cut) to return. Helwani opted against tying himself down to one employer, and will wear a variety of hats with Vox Media, BT Sport, and Spotify, among others.
On Monday, Helwani (in a lucha mask) appeared on the Dan Le Batard Show and discussed his time with ESPN. He did not hold back, criticizing the company for the lack of promotion of his ESPN+ shows and also calling out “fake journalists.”
“I never got a single plug in my three years there, a SINGLE plug on any type of broadcast. I stopped counting at the 7th plug on Saturday for their two new shows.” — @arielhelwani unloads on his time at ESPN!! ???????
? https://t.co/2MdaM3y5jA pic.twitter.com/6mUmsaJyuY
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) July 12, 2021
Here’s a transcript.
“I don’t want anyone to think that ESPN fired me or didn’t extend any contract. They did. Of course, it wasn’t what I was hoping for, and you can come up with your own type of theory as to why they extended the type of offer they extended. I think I’m worth a lot more than they offered, and I’m out to prove it. And I’ll just add that the pettiness knows no bounds. The real estate, as they say in Las Vegas, I hear is pretty good these days. For Ariel Helwani, and I’ll talk to myself in third person, it’s rent-free. Because what they did on Saturday, the two shows that I had with Chael and DC, that I helped build, that I was the one promoting more than anyone, I mean all day incessantly, I never got a single plug in my three years there. A single plug, on any type of broadcast – any type of broadcast – for three years. I stopped counting at the seventh plug on Saturday for their two new shows.
“And I love DC and Chael Sonnen like they’re my brothers. I will do anything – I will literally go in front of a car for those guys, they are the most loyal friends. But the pettiness, to try and raise those shows because now I’m out, to try and put me down because I’m out, to try and continue to hurt me and put roadblocks in front of me because I’m out is laughable to me. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to continue covering this sport. I’m going to continue doing it the right way and the fair way. And they can bring their parade of sad sack fake journalists all day long to do whatever they want to do and bow down to them. I’ll be just fine with the people that I’m working for at Vox, Ringer, Spotify, Substack, BT Sport. I’ll be just fine.”
“Sad sack fake journalists” is one hell of a line, and I wonder who Helwani is talking about there.
Anyway, Helwani clearly has some sour grapes regarding his time at ESPN, and while I do think there should be some scrutiny towards the relationship between ESPN and UFC (especially when it comes to journalistic endeavors), some of Helwani’s complaints come off as petty.