ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro was named Sports Business Journal’s Executive of the Year tonight during the virtual presentation of the 2020 Sports Business Awards hosted by ESPN’s Laura Rutledge and Jay Williams.
In accepting the award, Pitaro saluted his fellow nominees, Scott Boras, Don Garber, Roger Goodell and Roger Penske before thanking his ESPN family.
“I want to call out my amazing colleagues at ESPN who consistently deliver impressive results that long pre-date my presence here,” said Pitaro in his acceptance speech. “I feel so fortunate to be able to work with such amazingly talented individuals and to be a part of the culture that makes ESPN what it is.”
Pitaro joins a distinguished list of past Executive of the Year honorees, including ESPN’s George Bodenheimer (2011), Roger Goodell (2012), Adam Silver (2015), Gary Bettman (2014), Dick Ebersol (2009) and Jerry Jones (2010).
In recognizing Pitaro, SBJ cited his leadership in making “the biggest company in sports media. . . even bigger last year,” while praising the company’s strategy for combatting cord-cutting (in part, with ESPN+), entering into the “sports betting arena” and for being “aggressive in the digital and social space. . . strengthening ESPN’s lead as the top U.S. digital sports property across every metric.”
Pitaro said: “I wake up each day with the feeling that I have to earn this position, and the passion and work ethic of ESPN’s people drive me every single day. I want to call out how inspiring it’s been to see our industry rally the last six months and, really with unprecedented collaboration, forge innovative ways to serve the sports fan.”