Pat McAfee Show Aaron rodgers Pat McAfee interviewing Aaron Rodgers in October 2023. (The Pat McAfee Show.)

The Pat McAfee Show made headlines on Tuesday — as it often does — when Aaron Rodgers challenged Kansas City Chiefs tight end (and Pfizer spokesperson) Travis Kelce to a debate about vaccines.

Now McAfee and Rodgers are making news for a different reason, with The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand revealing that Rodgers’ weekly interviews on the program are paid for. While it’s unclear exactly how much Rodgers is making for the appearances, Marchand reports that it’s “seven figures per year,” while McAfee himself confirmed that “Aaron has made over $1,000,000 with us, for sure.”

What’s also unclear is when McAfee’s show began paying Rodgers, who began appearing on the program regularly in 2020. At that time, the show was under the FanDuel banner before it officially moved to ESPN this past September.

While Marchand’s reporting indicates that the payment for Rodgers comes out of the five-year, $85 million contract that McAfee signed with ESPN this year, that’s ultimately a distinction without much of a difference. The reality is that The Pat McAfee Showwhich has been thriving on digital platforms, but with less success on linear television — is now one of ESPN’s tentpole shows and is paying handsomely for a regular high profile guest.

Paying for interview spots is nothing new, especially in the sports radio world, but it’s hard to recall a time that an ESPN show has done so. While McAfee’s show is more of an entertainment entity than a journalistic one, the company builds a not insignificant portion of its programming around what Rodgers says in what we now know are paid interviews on their very airwaves.

In addition to the obvious concerns about the compromises an interviewer might have to make while paying an interview subject, the news that Rodgers is being compensated for the hits puts another spotlight on the star quarterback’s comments about the COVID-19 vaccine, including his jabs at Kelce, who he calls “Mr. Pfizer.” It’s also worth wondering whether any other guests on ESPN shows — be it McAfee or elsewhere — are being paid and if this news could establish a new precedent for the company or an asking price from potential guests.

It will also be interesting to see what happens when Rodgers — who first announced he was joining the Jets on McAfee’s show when it was still with FanDuel — inevitably breaks real news on the program now that it’s under the ESPN banner. Considering the criticism the company’s insiders have previously faced about how they obtain their information, it would be tough to argue that any news that Rodgers makes on McAfee’s show is anything but “bought and paid for.”

[The New York Post]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.