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Ex-ESPN president John Skipper says he resigned because a cocaine dealer tried to extort him

Former ESPN president John Skipper revealed Thursday that his sudden resignation from the network in December was the result of an attempted extortion plot by someone who sold him cocaine. In his announcement at the time, Skipper cited substance addiction as the reason for his resignation, but in an interview published Thursday by The Hollywood Reporter, he divulged the attempted extortion plot after being pressed by interviewer James Andrew Miller.

The incident made Skipper realize he needed to seek help for his drug use, he told THR. "They threatened me, and I understood immediately that threat put me and my family at risk, and this exposure would put my professional life at risk as well," he explained, adding that upon confiding in Bob Iger, the CEO of ESPN's parent company Disney, the two agreed that Skipper should resign.

Skipper described his past use of cocaine as "infrequent," and said that aside from "a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments," it had never interfered with his professional life leading ESPN until December. Skipper ran ESPN for nearly six years, and took many by surprise when he stepped down, citing his plan to seek treatment.

Disney executive James Pitaro was named the new ESPN president last week. Read Skipper's full interview with The Hollywood Reporter here.