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ESPN’s Pat McAfee faces backlash after calling WNBA star Caitlin Clark a ‘White b*tch’


ESPN’s Pat McAfee faces backlash after calling WNBA star Caitlin Clark a ‘White b*tch’

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Feb 8, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Pat McAfee on radio row at the Super Bowl 58 media center at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino.


ESPN host Pat McAfee has apologized for calling Caitlin Clark a “White b*tch” during a Monday show segment over whether race has played a factor in the WNBA rookie’s meteoric rise.

“I shouldn’t have used ‘white b*itch’ as a descriptor of Caitlin Clark. No matter the context.. even if we’re talking about race being a reason for some of the stuff happening. I have way too much respect for her and women to put that into the universe,” McAfee wrote Monday afternoon on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“My intentions when saying it were complimentary just like the entire segment but, a lot of folks are saying that it certainly wasn’t at all,” he added. “That’s 100% on me and for that I apologize.”

McAfee wrote that he had sent an apology to Clark, as well.

The apology came hours after McAfee argued on his program, which airs on both ESPN and YouTube, that it is Clark and Clark alone who is behind the WNBA’s surge in popularity this year, contending that some have argued that it’s because she’s a White player that she’s become so popular.

McAfee, the former NFL punter turned shock jock, argued that is not the case, outlining Clark’s dominant television ratings, ticket sales and jersey sales in a game show-style segment he called, “Guess Which WNBA Rookie.”

“What we’re trying to say is, what the WNBA currently has is what we like to describe as a cash cow. There is a superstar,” McAfee had said. “But I would like the media people that continue to say, ‘This rookie class, this rookie class.’ Nah, just call it for what it is. There is one White b*tch for the Indiana team who is a superstar.”

McAfee went on to describe how Clark “carried” Iowa’s basketball program and shattered NCAA scoring records.

“Is there a chance people just enjoy watching her play basketball because of how electrifying she is, what she did what she stood for, how she went about going what she went for?” McAfee said. “Maybe. But instead we have to hear people say we only like her because she’s White, and she’s only popular because the rest of the rookie class is doing what they’re doing. Well, that’s a bunch of bulls**t and we think the WNBA — more specifically their refs — need to stop trying to screw her over at every single turn. What you have is somebody special and we’re lucky she’s here in Indiana.”

While McAfee’s praise of Clark was effusive, his use of the pejorative term “White b*tch” and focus on the race of the players drew backlash, including from some ESPN staffers.

“This is just completely unacceptable,” ESPN analyst Kim Adams wrote on X. “Interested to see how ESPN handles it. And his entire argument is not conducive to anything going on in the WNBA right now. Just let the women hoop.”

“The men are not ok,” ESPN WNBA reporter Alexa Philippou wrote on X, shortly after the segment aired.

“Beyond unacceptable,” wrote The Athletic reporter and NBC sports analyst Nicole Auerbach.

“Referring to Caitlin Clark as ‘the white b*tch for Indiana.’ That’s beyond being too comfortable. Just totally unacceptable,” former ESPN host Jemele Hill wrote on X.

ESPN declined to comment to CNN on the matter. The Indiana Fever did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The backlash wasn’t the first time McAfee has caused headaches for ESPN.

Earlier this year, McAfee ignited a torrent of outrage when he allowed the conspiracy-curious New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers to baselessly suggest during his show that ABC late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel might be named in documents identifying Jeffrey Epstein associates. McAfee later apologized after Kimmel threatened to take legal action and declared Rodgers would no longer appear on the show for the rest of the season.

McAfee also went after former ESPN executive Norby Williamson, accusing the network veteran of “sabotage” and calling him a “rat,” alleging he leaked false information about McAfee’s show.

Just a few months after those attacks, Williamson departed the network.

Clark, meanwhile, was named the WNBA Rookie of the Month for May. In 11 games, Clark has averaged 15.6 points, 6.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

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