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All that and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, and it has been one of the craziest weeks in OutKick history.

Appreciate all the great feedback on the Fox acquisition news. My phone has never blown up more with messages for any reason. It was wild to see as soon as the news broke.

And almost all of the feedback was insanely positive. I got one negative email and, according to our tech staff, 15 people were mad I’d sold to Fox and canceled their VIP subscriptions. When you do a deal of this magnitude, you really don’t have any idea how everyone will respond. Given that social media is so emotion-driven I had no idea what to expect, but it’s been amazing to see the positive reactions.

So thank you for all of that.

I’ll respond to some of your questions on the OutKick sell below.

Cody writes:

“Dana White’s ‘super spreader’ event in Florida on 4/24 at UFC 261 has yet to yield any deaths or spikes in cases…neither have the Texas Rangers with full capacity games…so that begs the question…why are these leagues/teams pissing away money for virtue signaling?”

To be fair, some leagues and teams aren’t allowed to have full stadiums because of the the city and state rules of their jurisdiction, but the data is pretty clear at this point: at an absolute minimum, every outdoor stadium should be 100% open now.

Every. Single. One.

And given how common vaccinations are, I think every single indoor venue should be open as well.

That’s what the governor of Tennessee argued on my radio show Wednesday, and I think he’s right.

Now are some teams still virtue signaling by requiring limited attendance and masks? Yes. But I think that’s a small minority of teams. I think many teams are still hamstrung by their city and state regulations and are afraid of angering local politicians by speaking out against them.

Look, most players, owners, and executives who work at sports teams are not fearful people. These guys — I’m quite certain because I hear from them all the time — all want to be back to 100% normalcy. They played their sport during the height of the COVID crunch last year, and none of them had any serious health issues.

Now most of these guys aren’t politically active, but what most owners, athletes and executives believe in is themselves. All highly successful people in sports, ultimately, have to believe in individual excellence and their own work ethics and their ability to perform in highly competitive environments. In many ways, that’s ultimately a conservative belief system, the idea that the only hand you can rely on is the one at the end of your sleeve.

What COVID illuminated, I think more starkly than ever before, was the extreme gap between players and coaches and the people who cover them in the sports media. The sports media was dominated by fearful coronabros intent on canceling the season, while the players and coaches all wanted to play.

Amazingly, one reason OutKick skyrocketed in popularity over the past couple of years was because we publicly argued in favor of sports being played, and almost no one else in my industry did the same.

Think about how crazy that is.

We got way more popular at OutKick by being in favor of sports.

So I agree with you, every stadium and arena should be 100% open for any fans who want to attend the games.

Now I’ve gotten a ton of questions about Fox’s purchase of OutKick, so I picked three to put in sequence here to address in one response. Here are three questions that I think are representative of what many OutKick readers, listeners and viewers have asked.

Kevin writes:

“Do you have a guarantee that your content won’t be censored? Joe Rogan said his wouldn’t be and it was, how can we ensure it won’t be the same from OutKick?”

Alex writes:

I need more details on the Fox acquisition. So curious about the financials of the deal. I understand why you won’t share though. Please say fox won’t censor your opinions.”

Phillip writes:

With joining Fox, will you still have the control of addressing the topics you want to address or will there be a production/creative team that dictates the content of your program?”

I have always decided which topics to cover on OutKick, and that will never change. No one tells me what to think or say on my radio show and TV show, and it’s crazy to think that would change now. For better or worse, I say what I think and believe and the only judge of what I think and believe is me.

I can’t speak to Joe Rogan or what his contracts say, but the reason I picked Fox among the companies we had making offers to buy OutKick was because Fox wanted us BECAUSE OF our content. Some people who bid on OutKick wanted us IN SPITE OF our content. That’s a very significant difference to me because the people who wanted to buy OutKick in spite of our content are the ones who would try to change us once they owned the company. That wasn’t Fox.

Look, we’ve developed a really good business overall, and a big part of that is we have an excellent sports gambling revenue stream that is working in all ten states with online sports wagering. That’s because OutKick has a substantial nationwide audience that is connected to our brand. People respond to the products we advertise. There’s no debate or dispute about this. And the companies could all see our financials and know this to be true.

But my concern with some companies was they wanted the milk, but they didn’t want the cow.

What I mean by that is they like the OutKick results, but they don’t want — or get nervous about — what produces the results. That doesn’t work for me. Do some people hate OutKick and get offended by our content? Sure. But that’s also why the people who love OutKick love it. So if you try to make the people who are complaining happy, you destroy the reason people liked you in the first place.

I learned that lesson a long time ago. Say what you believe, don’t apologize and keep saying what you believe. That sounds simple, but most people can’t and won’t do that. So they never develop a strong devotion or loyalty among their audience.

So, yes, I am still running OutKick, and I don’t believe our content is going to change for the negative at all. But I can tell you that a billion times and ultimately you can believe me or not. What I’d tell you to do is to keep listening, reading, and watching our content and judge for yourself.

My bet is you will only see bigger and better content going forward, but that the overall site tone, content, and culture won’t change. That’s because I’m not changing it, and I’m not going anywhere.

But, again, that’s for you to judge, not for me to tell you.

You also need to keep in mind that no one can predict the future. OutKick is ten years old. I didn’t know Donald Trump was ever going to be in politics, much less elected president, when I launched in 2011, and I also didn’t know we’d end up in a global pandemic. We follow the stories, and the stories have been pretty wild and unpredictable over the past five years.

I also didn’t know I was going to fall in love with Game of Thrones and that my Monday morning columns about the show were going to turn into one of the most popular things we’ve ever done on the site. So who knows what the top stories are going to be over the next five or ten years or what content will draw all our attention?

All I can tell you is I believe the reason OutKick works is because we are smart, original, funny and authentic, and we employ many people who tell you exactly what they think. Not what they think you want to hear, but what they actually think. That’s not changing.

Finally, I have more money than I could ever spend now. Money typically makes you more of what you already are. Well, if you liked me before, you’re probably going to like me even more going forward. And if you hated me before, you’re probably going to hate me even more in the future.

But, ultimately, I’m not the judge of OutKick. You guys are.

And I’d bet you won’t notice any changes at all.

Bob writes:

“Has there been a point yet this week where you got emotional knowing that your kids will never want for anything? Can you describe the feeling you had thinking of them. Congrats again!”

Well, first, I have a new concern, how will my kids handle our wealth? I wasn’t born with money, and for most of my kids’ life, we really didn’t have much money either.

As recently as 2011, I was making $40k a year doing local Nashville radio and worrying about being able to take care of two young sons when I lost my job writing at FanHouse. It ended up being the best thing that could ever happen for me, but at the time it was terrifying.

I was 32 years old, and I wasn’t making much money at all.

My hope is my two oldest kids will remember that part of our lives and not take for granted what we have now.

So I’m spending time thinking about how you motivate kids who have advantages now that you yourself never had.

I’m not pretending, by the way, that I had some awful poverty-ridden upbringing. I didn’t. I had two of the best parents in the country and an amazing middle-class American childhood.

I grew up in a $100,000 house in a solidly middle class neighborhood in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. As I’ve said before, neither of my parents ever made $50,000 a year, and I went to public school K-12. My grandparents didn’t graduate from college. My grandfather, Clay Travis, whom I was named after, dropped out of school in eighth grade and spent his life working in a factory at Dupont in Old Hickory, Tennessee.

So how do you get kids, who have tremendous advantages you didn’t have, to work hard and compete in the future? That’s what I’m going to spend the next 10-15 years working on with my boys. And it’s a new concern that I’m grappling with right now.

But after we signed the papers to sell OutKick, I turned to my wife and told her there would never be any kids, grandkids or great-grandkids who had to worry about money during our lifetimes. (They all may blow it after we die.) And that was a pretty incredible moment to have as parents, and hopefully future grandparents and great-grandparents too.

I also told my wife that since she’s going to live to be over 100 years old and I think I’m probably going to die around 51 years old from working too much that she’s going to be a really rich widow for a long time.

It was also a great feeling to call around to a ton of people who helped me get to where I am today and thank them for all their help. That was gratifying. And then seeing, for instance, the Wall Street Journal headline and story about OutKick being bought by Fox. I mean, come on. How many people start businesses, grind away as hard as they can for years and years, and ever get to see their company selling be a headline in the Wall Street Journal? It’s a tiny percentage of people, and I don’t take that for granted. That was an incredible moment for me. I’ve been reading the Wall Street Journal daily for years, so to see that headline was an unbelievable feeling.

But I also want to make it clear: it’s not like I’m dying and it’s time to assess my life’s accomplishments and failures for an obituary. It’s not like this is the capstone to my career. I’m 42 years old. Assuming I don’t drop dead anytime soon, I still have a ton I want to accomplish. Which is why I tend to be way more forward thinking than backward thinking. So I spend almost all my time thinking about the future now.

I’ve always said you know you’re living life the right way if you’d wake up and do the same thing the day after you won the lottery as you were doing the day before.

I mean, I was up at 4:30 this morning doing the radio show.

That’s kind of where I am with things now. I never really stopped normal work. Lara and I had a couple of margaritas on Wednesday evening, but otherwise I was out picking up pizzas for the kids and planning little league games like normal this week. I really don’t think my life, or our lives, are going to change very much at all.

And after I answer these questions in today’s mailbag, I don’t think most of you will notice any difference in my OutKick content at all. Or in the overall content of OutKick on radio and video. I understand there’s a lot of interest in OutKick — because I know many of you feel deeply connected to the brand — but I really don’t think anything is going to change here when it comes to your experience on the site.

I wouldn’t have sold if I thought that were the case, and Fox wouldn’t have bought the company and signed me to continue to run it for the next five years if they wanted to make massive changes. I believe OutKick is going to get way bigger and stronger in the months ahead, but I think the company you love isn’t going to change.


Bryan writes:

“Did Georgia Governor Kemp sign a flawed NIL bill that allows schools to take up to 75% of a student’s endorsement money and redistribute it to other student-athletes? How could that affect recruiting for schools that choose to take that option?”

Look, I expect name/image/likeness is going to get challenged in state courts under Title IX almost the moment it begins.

I think most states are going to end up with systems like Georgia’s. Because as long as not-for-profit colleges and universities are compensating athletes, there’s going to be great inequality here. Men’s basketball and football players are going to have a ton of value and, candidly, most women athletes aren’t going to have that much value.

But even then, it will just be a tiny pinprick of popular male athletes that have a real value. Most athletes don’t have a substantial endorsement value.

So I think there will immediately be lawsuits filed demanding that all scholarship athletes be treated equally under name/image/likeness legislation. The school isn’t taking 75% of an athlete’s money for their own use. They are taking it to redistribute it to other athletes who aren’t receiving the money. That’s going to be how they are going to argue that it passes Title IX muster.

Ultimately, I think the courts may well rule that all scholarship athletes, whether women’s swimmers or the quarterback on the football team, have to be compensated the same way because of Title IX.

But we’ll have to wait and see for sure, and this will take years to determine.

I think a plan like Georgia’s may end up as our national standard.

David writes:

“Should the Titans see if the Packers are interested in trading Tannehill and change for Aaron Rodgers?”

Sure.

I think every team with a quarterback worse than Aaron Rodgers, so all but about five or six teams, should make this inquiry, including the Titans.

Heck, as I wrote and said last week, I’d even try and flip Deshaun Watson for Aaron Rodgers straight up if I were the Texans. I doubt Rodgers would ever agree to that trade, but you might as well try.

Doug writes:

“To what extent, if any, did Biden’s tax proposals influence your decision to sell OutKick?”

Not much, honestly.

We still don’t know what the tax code will look like in 2021 compared to 2022, so it’s hard to factor that into the decision making. It’s possible there’s a big difference, and it’s possible there’s no difference at all.

If this decision had to be made last year, I think there would have been way more consideration on trying to make sure you got the deal done while Trump was still president in 2020 and the tax rate was guaranteed, but if I wanted to wait for a Republican president to lower taxes before I sold, I’d have to wait until 2024 at the earliest.

And even then there’s no guarantee who the president will be beginning in 2025.

I’ve been in favor of lowering taxes since I started working full time and saw how much of your paycheck disappears to them. But there’s so much uncertainty right now about the tax code, it’s impossible to make decisions based on an unclear future.

So not much at all.


Zack writes:

“First post Fox acquisition purchase?”

Beach front property on 30A. We are in Rosemary Beach now, but we aren’t beachfront. We’ll be looking at places come May.

Other than that, I’ve got pretty much everything I want already.

Blue writes:

“In 1976, what would you have bet on more? OJ’s murder trial or Bruce Jenner becomes a woman and runs for governor?”

You’re my boy, Blue.

I think the odds for OJ — or any famous athlete — getting charged with murder would have been way higher in 1976 than the odds of a top male athlete changing his gender and running for governor.

So I think you’d have to bet on the murder charges being far more likely.

Thanks a ton for your support of OutKick, and I look forward to many more years of continuing fun here with you guys.

Hope you all have great weekends.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

14 Comments

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  1. I just think that most folks are worried about the boiling water & frog scenario. A metaphor for our entire country in fact. That change happens little by little until the point where it is basically unrecognizable.

    Hopefully not. In guess we’ll see. Please let the messaging board remained unfiltered – as opposed to twitter

  2. About your kids remembering when times weren’t so great financially, my twice college graduate 29 year old daughter remembers going to the day-old bread store when she was in elementary school. My son still remembers when I was attending MSState distance university and watching lecture VHS tapes for classes.

    They will ALWAYS remember when things weren’t that great, but appreciate the good when it comes.

  3. Glad to see you proactively answering questions about the sale and the content of Outkick going forward. The simple fact that there isn’t a moratorium on discussing it or any filter as to what you can answer already speaks volumes about what Fox will influence here. Hoping for continued growth for the Outkick brand under new ownership. Congratulations to Clay and the whole team at Outkick!

  4. “I wouldn’t have sold if I thought that were the case, and Fox wouldn’t have bought the company and signed me to continue to run it for the next five years if they wanted to make massive changes.”

    What happens in year six?

  5. I think we should not be like modern society, which is completely 100% cynical and thinks it can see the future. If you are envious of Clay making bank, then leave. If you want to have an open mind and trust that he will not change, let him prove it. Doing the latter requires zero effort on our part. Rogan was always a lefty anyway; it’s not surprising that he sold out. Clay has always seemed pretty moderate and less susceptible to accepting the demands of the Woke Brigade types that have censored Rogan.

  6. Nice article, but I think dismissing “15 people got mad and cancelled their subscriptions” misses the mark. First off, the site makes it very difficult to find your profile and change your renewal status. Second, a choice to cancel a subscription to Outkick may not just be about getting mad about selling to Fox, but rather to reconsider why as a consumer you would shell out extra money to a large media conglomerate for content.

    Pretty sure all VIP subscribers are happy for you and your business success, but most are understandably worried about the restrictions corporate ownership will put on the site.

  7. When I subscribed to The Athletic 4-5 years ago it was the No Ads / No Pop-Ups promise that attracted me. The site has maintained that …BUT it has grown more and more Woke which was not even a word much less a concern 5 years ago. So I have unsubscribed …

    I’m here because of the quality of the columns AND the strong Anti-Woke position of the site. So long as that continues I’m on board.

    There is an easy comparison – IMO – between Outkick and Barstool … I MUCH prefer here because I like Clay and his team (Yes, I wish Jason Whitlock was still around but c’est la vie). Barstool IMO is waaaay too much Drunk Frat Boys Being Stoopid … that quickly bored me. Both sites would seem to target the same 18-35 Male demographic … ergo both sites feature IG girls which might offend some but not me…. and I am pretty far outside that 18-35 demo.

    FoxNews lets Tucker be Tucker despite intense pressure from the Left Lunatics. So heres hoping they let Clay Be Clay too …

  8. Growing up in DC what made PTI special was it felt like you were just listening to two of your buddies chatting. That’s what your Outkick show felt like. I stopped listening to PTI when they became “big time” and their opinions stopped feeling authentic and they were just pandering. I hope that doesn’t happen with your show.

    I discovered Outkick, dailywire and Louder with Crowder (in that order) when what I was hearing about covid didn’t pass the smell test. Thanks for your articles about that. That alone was worth the VIP cost this past year.

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