This year will mark the 26th annual ESPYs, but there will be something quite different about the sports award show this time around. For the first time in the show’s history, the ESPYs will be hosted by a woman, Danica Patrick. ESPN announced the news on Twitter Tuesday:
Danica Patrick will host the 2018 ESPYS, becoming the first female to host the show. pic.twitter.com/N33rRderfB
— ESPN (@espn) May 23, 2018
And Patrick announced this herself Tuesday on an episode of The Tonight Show.
The ESPYs have had all sorts of hosts over the years, from Dennis Miller through Tony Danza through Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong, Jon Hamm and Peyton Manning (who hosted last year’s edition). But their decision to bring in a female host is certainly notable. And Patrick seems like a strong choice here; she’s accomplished a lot in racing over the years, and while she’s in the process of moving away from the sport, she competed in this year’s Daytona 500 and will compete in the Indianapolis 500 this coming Sunday, her last race as a professional driver. She’s also comfortable on TV, which is an important element of this role; she’s worked on Fox NASCAR broadcasts before, hosted shows on Spike, and appeared in everything from CSI: NY to GoDaddy commercials.
It will be interesting to see what Patrick brings to the broadcast, and how this year’s ESPYs go. They’ve become an important venue for athletes to address serious issues in recent years, especially with the 2016 intro that saw Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speak about racial tension and shootings. And there will certainly be serious elements to this year’s show, especially with the decision to present the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to the women who spoke out against Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. But there will definitely be plenty of lighter moments too, and Patrick will get the chance to show off her comedy chops. We’ll see how she does.
[ESPN on Twitter]