Aaron Rodgers is currently receiving a lot of money from the New York Jets — $75 million over two years, according to this report — but that’s not his only source of football-related income. It turns out that when the injured Jets quarterback turns up on The Pat McAfee Show, he’s benefiting financially from the arrangement, to the tune of over $1 million per year.
That’s one of the big takeaways from a New York Post report by Andrew Marchand. As Marchand writes, McAfee pays both Rodgers and Nick Saban for their appearances on his show. McAfee confirmed the reports, telling the Post that “Aaron has made over $1,000,000 with us, for sure.”
Both Rodgers and Saban make regular appearances on McAfee’s show. According to Marchand’s reporting, the money to pay both men comes from McAfee’s overall deal with ESPN, which pays him $17 million each year.
In comments made to the Post, McAfee framed the issue as one of, essentially, sharing the wealth. “‘If somebody’s making money off of this, I’m making money off of this,” he explained. “‘If nobody’s making any money, and it’s all for goodwill, I’m making no money as well’ is my mindset for doing stuff and I treat my company the same way.”
“I give rather large bonuses as thank you’s and I genuinely believe it’s the only way to operate,” he added.
McAfee’s strategy seems to have paid off; Rodgers’s comments on his show — including his semi-feud with Travis Kelce over the merits of getting vaccinated — have made headlines, and have helped establish The Pat McAfee Show as a place where athletes can go and speak candidly about matters on and off the field. (See also: Kelce’s comments on the show about Taylor Swift, made earlier this year.)
But McAfee’s decision to pay at least some of his interviewees veers into the age-old question of whether it’s ethical for journalists to pay sources — and also feels like further evidence of the changing relationship between celebrities and the media. That, in turn, leads to a bigger question: will this lead to more of McAfee’s peers following his lead, or will it remain a relatively isolated phenomenon?
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