Erin Andrews Says ESPN Made Her Do Oprah Interview Before Returning to Work After Nude Video Leak
By Meredith B. Kile
Erin Andrews returned to court on Monday to continue her $75 million lawsuit against West End Hotel Partners and her convicted stalker, Michael David Barrett.
The lawsuit stems from an incident nearly eight years ago in which Andrews was secretly videotaped naked inside of her hotel room at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University, but testimony in the case has revealed some surprising details, including Andrews’ claim that her employer at the time, ESPN, made her to do a sit-down interview about the leaked video before she would be allowed to return to her hosting duties.
“Because there wasn’t an arrest, because we didn’t know where this happened, my bosses at ESPN told me before you go back on-air for college football, we need you to give us a sit-down interview,” the 37-year-old Fox College Football and Dancing With the Stars host said on the stand. “That was the only way I was going to be allowed back.”
Andrews said she was allowed to select who would conduct the interview, claiming her bosses were “highly recommending” Good Morning America because of the ESPN/ABC connection. But the sports journalist said she “didn’t want it to be a two-second thing,” instead choosing Oprah Winfrey to conduct the interview.
“This is my life and I feel terrible about myself and we want to figure out how this happened,” she explained. “So I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to be a part of it. And I just said, ‘You know what? I know -- because she’s very public about it -- that Oprah is a crime victim. I talked to her producers. I told her I didn’t want to do it. But this was the only way I was going to be put back on air.”
The September 2009 sit-down was a traumatic ordeal for Andrews, who said at the time that she didn’t know who had videotaped her, only that a “stalker” had taken video of her in two separate hotel rooms as she traveled for work.
“I was really nervous,” she admitted on the stand. “I didn’t want to talk about it. My mom and dad were in the front row. I felt bad. They were crying the whole time.”
At a certain point, Andrews recalled, Oprah stopped the interview unexpectedly.
“I was like, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ She was like, ‘You’re fine. You’re fine’ -- such a pro, so comforting,” she recounted. “I didn’t even know what was going on. She said, ‘Yeah, yeah. You’re good. We’re just going to give you a second.’ … All of a sudden this makeup lady came with a cold compress, and she put it all over my neck. I had broken out in a huge rash. I didn’t even know, and Oprah saw it, and she just felt so bad.”
Barrett pled guilty to altering peepholes and secretly shooting videos of the former ESPN reporter in 2009 and was sentenced to 2-½ years in prison.
In the ongoing lawsuit, jurors will have to determine whether West End Hotel Partners, the franchise owner of the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt, was negligent with regard to keeping Andrews reasonably safe.
When reached for comment, ESPN told ET, "Developments in the case have been interpreted by some to mean that ESPN was unsupportive of Erin in the aftermath of her ordeal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been and continue to be supportive of Erin."