Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is not happy with ESPN right now.
Last month ESPN writer Seth Wickersham produced a scathing piece that described how badly run the Browns front office is under Haslam’s ownership.
Haslam is apparenly so upset about the article that he is ending his sponsorship deal for his company Pilot Flying J that is worth millions.
Pilot Flying J is pulling its extensive advertising and sponsorship agreement with ESPN two years into a four-year deal, sources say, after ESPN.com ran a critical story on the inner workings of the Browns. Jimmy Haslam, who owns the Browns with his wife, Dee, also is Pilot Flying J’s CEO. The brand’s multi-platform deal with ESPN included significant advertising around college football, an SEC corporate sponsorship that made it the conference’s official travel center, and agreements for ESPN talent Paul Finebaum and Laura Rutledge to endorse the brand. ESPN owns all of the SEC’s marketing and media rights, which is why it sold the league sponsorship. Pilot Flying J and ESPN are negotiating how to unwind the deals, which are believed to be worth low-to-mid seven figures annually.
Haslam’s temper tantrum over ESPN’s story is dumb and proves how inept he is at his job.