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Chalk It Up To Success: Woody Paige Celebrates Around The Horn Milestone

An ATH "OG," he becomes the first panelist to surpass 600 career victories; his colleagues salute him

Woody Paige has been part of ESPN’s Around the Horn (weekdays, 5 p.m. ET) since the show debuted 17 years ago on Nov. 4, 2002. The longtime Denver sports columnist, who writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette and hosts his own self-titled podcast, has appeared in more episodes than any other panelist in the show’s history – 2,668, to be exact.

Known for his wit, sarcasm and thoughtfulness, Paige has informed and entertained fans weekday afternoons on ESPN for nearly two decades, often sporting a wry smile and with a clever chalkboard message scribbled behind him.

Already ATH’s all-time wins leader, Paige reached a major milestone today, becoming the first panelist to surpass 600 career victories. He spoke with Front Row about the record and what it has meant to him to be a regular panelist all these years.

What were your initial thoughts of Around the Horn and how long it would last?
After the first reviews of the show, I thought Around The Horn and I wouldn’t last more than a few months. I even called Jim Cohen, who oversaw ATH for the network, and told him I should quit because I stunk. Even my friends in the newspaper business were ripping the show. I couldn’t sleep. Then, I covered a college football game, and more than 100 students came up and wanted autographs and to talk about ATH. I realized that perhaps the show was for a younger audience, and they kind of thought of me as the weird uncle.

What are the keys to scoring on ATH?
There are no keys to scoring well on ATH. Some days I think I’m doing great, with good information and a couple of humorous answers, and I get nothing but mutes. Other days I’m lousy, and somehow I win.

Coordinating producer Aaron Solomon on Woody Paige:
“[He] is the lifeblood of Around The Horn and without him I’m not sure we’d still be Around (The Horn). The wins and appearances are nice, but his commitment, his dedication, and his loyalty to this program are far more valuable than the statistics he’s compiled over the years.”

What’s your favorite memory from being on ATH?
When my mom and my daughter briefly were on the show when I won, I think, the 200th and 300th shows. I lost my dad in the 1970s, and I’ve since lost my sister and mom, but I’m glad my mother and my sister got to see I turned out OK.

What other ATH shows stand out?
I almost died on the show when I won 100. The production assistant dropped confetti from the ceiling, and, while talking, I swallowed a mouthful and couldn’t get my breath.

Which panelist do you like to compete against most?
I love doing the showdown against Jackie [MacMullan], Sarah [Spain] and Mina [Kimes] because they are the toughest to beat and the toughest on me.

Will 600 ATH wins ever be broken?
Someday I think there will be others who have 600 wins. Tim Cowlishaw next after I’m gone.

What about ATH makes you most proud?
I’ve been very proud of the show when there have been serious subjects, and we handle them with dignity and thoughtful observations. I hope we have informed, educated and entertained.

Josh Bard, Daniel Comer, Jeff Weiner and Rachel Ripp produced the video.

Woody Paige’s wit long has been an Around The Horn staple.
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