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The ESPN “PRod Pod”: Episode 4, ESPN Images’ Senior Event Photographer Phil Ellsworth

Welcome to Episode 4 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. Hosted by various ESPN PR professionals, the PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.

In this special episode, Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod welcomes his ESPN Communications colleague, photographer Phil Ellsworth, who snapped the weekend’s most compelling sports photo (above) – and one that will surely make any “Best of 2021 Photography” list worth its salt.

The picture – along with several other Ellsworth photos – ricocheted off social media’s rubber walls just after midnight ET Sunday. The shot even garnered the praise and attention of the man who absorbed the devastating blow, Masvidal himself.

“Photography is a powerful tool when it comes to storytelling and Phil’s sequence of Kamaru Usman knocking out Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 did just that – it ‘storytold,’” said Tessa Hursh, Associate Editor, ESPN Social. “He captured the moment of impact and the aftermath beautifully. You could feel the energy, and each image we selected encapsulated the story of Usman’s power and dominance. Phil’s four images are now in the top performing posts on all ESPN MMA social media accounts over the past 12 months.”

Ellsworth shares a moving story about the camera shown here in the ESPN Prod Pod, Episode 4.
Per Hursh, Ellsworth’s photography was utilized in social posts across ESPN and ESPN MMA handles generating 10 million impressions across five posts. The post on ESPN MMA Instagram already ranks in the Top 3 for overall engagement in the account’s prior 12 months. On the podcast, Ellsworth talks about how he got the Masvidal shot, his early interest in sports photography and the personal losses that continue to drive him to the top of his profession. He also enthusiastically salutes all of his ESPN Images’ teammates, especially Melissa Rawlins and Bob Flanagan, and concludes his visit with PRod Pod Producer and ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe taking Ellsworth through the required “Fab Five” lightning round. Ellsworth will next be pointing his camera toward the action in Cleveland for the remainder of the week as The Walt Disney Company presents the 2021 NFL Draft.

Jon McLeod, Kiana Lowe and Rich Arden produced the podcast. 

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