Last month, ESPN hired Kelly Stewart as a betting analyst, and had her set to appear on their Daily Wager podcast and other elements of their sports betting coverage. They’ve now parted ways with her. As per a report from A.J. Perez and Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, that’s about her past tweets, including homophobic slurs from 2012 and more recent tweets denying the impact of COVID-19 and discussing its “affects” (sic). Here’s more from that Front Office Sports piece:
Betting analyst Kelly Stewart is out at ESPN, just a month after the network announced her hire.
An ESPN spokesman confirmed Stewart was no longer with the network on Friday. Sources tell Front Office Sports that her departure was related to old Twitter messages and posts that were flagged after ESPN brought her on board. ESPN declined to state the reason she’s no longer at the network.
Stewart has scrubbed many of the tweets, including six from 2012 where she used an anti-gay slur. Other since-deleted tweets strayed into COVID-19 denial and conspiracy theory territory, a source who viewed the deleted tweets said.
Meanwhile, Stewart has left some of her COVID-19 tweets up, including one saying ” Clearly we were lied to about the severity of this virus. Time to realize it’s true affects [sic] are worse than the virus itself.”
We were shut down. If Cuomo hadn’t sent sick people into nursing homes 1/3 of our deaths could’ve been prevented. We can point the fingers all day. Clearly we were lied to about the severity of this virus. Time to realize it’s true affects are worse than the virus itself.
— Kelly (@kellyinvegas) August 31, 2020
And while she’s deleted the 2012 homophobic tweets, some of them are screencapped here:
That really isn’t the problematic tweet that got her canned pic.twitter.com/HxySpk0Yzt
— AJ (@al2k12) June 5, 2021
Stewart did offer a statement on Twitter that discussed only the homophobic tweets from 2012, and attributed her dismissal to tweets from “anonymous online trolls”:
I wanted to put out a statement on today’s news so all of you could see my thoughts. pic.twitter.com/MvCsLlHhLw
— Kelly (@kellyinvegas) June 4, 2021
Stewart’s pre-ESPN work includes writing for Bleacher Report, contributing to The Las Vegas Review-Journal, and appearing on ESPN 1100 Las Vegas. AA has learned that Stewart’s homophobic tweets from 2012 came to the attention of executives at Bleacher Report and Turner Sports after she was hired there, and that Bleacher Report executives pushed for parting ways with her, but were overruled by Turner Sports executives. It’s unclear if Bleacher Report is the company she mentions that previously suspended her for those 2012 tweets.
At any rate, Stewart won’t be a part of ESPN’s betting coverage going forward, in contrast to what they’d planned when she was hired last month. As Perez and McCarthy note, ESPN’s statement on her last month included this glowing quote:
“Having an experienced voice like Kelly Stewart join us better positions us to expand our sports betting content going forward,” Scott Clark, ESPN senior coordinating producer, said in the news release. “She’ll be an important asset to all that we are doing in the space and like the rest of our sports betting team, she will be busy.”
We’ll see what the future holds for Stewart, and for ESPN’s betting coverage.