The untold truth of Erin Andrews

Sports reporter and former Dancing with the Stars host Erin Andrews has been in front of the camera in one form or another for more than 15 years. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in telecommunications from the University of Florida in 2000 and went on to become the go-to sideline reporter for Fox NFL. While her career is marked by hard work, it's also littered with bizarre scandals, arrests, a stalking case, some serious dancing, and a whole lot of salty people. Here's the play-by-play on Andrews' personal and professional life. 

The peephole trial was traumatizing for Erin Andrews

In 2008, while Andrews worked for ESPN, she was filmed nude—without her consent—through a peephole inside a Nashville, Tenn. Marriott hotel. To Andrews' horror, the video was leaked online, giving anybody with an internet connection access to the footage.

The former Illinois insurance executive who filmed her, Michael David Barrett (above), testified (via Page Six) that after confirming Andrews was staying in the hotel, he used an in-house phone in the hotel's restaurant to dial the operator and ask to be put through to Andrews' room. Because the in-house phone displayed room numbers, Barrett figured out where she was staying. He then checked into the room next to Andrews' and doctored the peep hole so he could record her with his iPhone.

Barrett was caught in 2010, when TMZ provided authorities with the email address he used to try to shill his footage to the celebrity site. Barrett pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Following the criminal case, Andrews filed a civil suit against Barrett and the hotel, seeking $75 million in restitution. As Andrews' lawyer, Randal Kinnard, told jurors, "This is not like being in a car wreck and breaking an arm and the arm heals and you get over it. There have been millions and millions of hits on this video around the world." During the trial, the customarily cool and calm Andrews was visibly shaken and tearful during her testimony.

Andrews was awarded $55 million—roughly $28 million from Barrett and more than $26 million from the Marriott affiliates. While the sum of the settlement is massive, the damage on Andrews' psyche is significant too. During Barrett's sentencing in the criminal case, Andrews said (via Page Six), "Every time I check into a hotel room, I fear he is in the closet, and every time I go home, I fear he is waiting for me. I fear for my life."

Erin Andrews' father came to her defense

Erin Andrews' father, Steve Andrews (above), is a six-time Emmy-winning investigative reporter for NBC affiliate WFLA-TV out of Tampa, Fla. Erin told South Tampa Magazine that he watches every game she covers. "He'll TiVo all my games," she said, "and if he can't stay up late and watch them, he'll wake up early the next morning and watch the rest."

One can imagine the horror he felt when his daughter's fame attracted the wrong kind of attention. According to the Times Free Press, "Steve Andrews testified during [the civil trial] that his daughter didn't want to eat, bathe or be around people and that all she did was cry after she discovered in 2009 that the nude videos had been posted online. He said she remains afraid of people to this day."

ESPN allegedly forced Erin Andrews talk about the leaked video

ESPN allegedly required Erin Andrews to discuss the incident publically to prove it "was not some kind of publicity stunt" before she was allowed to return to work, reported Sports Illustrated. During her trial, she testified: "Because there wasn't an arrest, because we didn't know where this happened, my bosses at ESPN told me, 'Before you go back on air for college football, we need you to give a sit-down interview.'" Andrews also testified that ESPN "highly" recommended she appear on ABC's Good Morning America, which shares parent company Disney. She chose to sit down with Oprah Winfrey instead.

"While not referencing the testimony directly, ESPN said it was always supportive of Andrews," reported Sports Illustrated.

Did Erin Andrews benefit from the peephole scandal publicity?

During the legal proceedings regarding the peep-hole footage, an attorney for the Marriott asked Andrews if her career had "thrived" following the publicity from the nude video. According to Page Six, lawyer Marc Dedman "recited a list of endorsement deals Andrews has gotten since 2009, including Reebok, Degree deodorant, Diet Mountain Dew, Florida Orange Juice and Victoria's Secret." He also noted that she received a better contract from ESPN, followed by an even better contract when she jumped to Fox. Andrews agreed in court that her professional career had improved.

While some members of the public spoke out against the massive judgment Andrews requested, others said her subsequent success was beside the point. In the sarcastic words of The Federalist columnist Rachel Lu, "Michael David Barrett stalked her and humiliated her before the entire country, and now she's a success! Be grateful, Erin Andrews! This one pervy stalker may have been better than a roomful of agents! In other words, we've reached the point where some are happy to assume that every woman in the world should be willing to take her clothes off for money."

Did Erin Andrews' Reebok deal violate journalistic ethics?

Erin Andrews attracted harsh criticism for comments she made while reporting for ESPN during the 2011 Rose Bowl college football game. During the broadcast, she said players were slipping in their Nike cleats. On its surface, that observation seems fairly innocuous, but after the game, The Oregonian reported that Andrews had signed an endorsement deal with Nike's top competitor, Reebok, creating what many believed to be a journalistic conflict of interest.

"I consider sports journalists and sports broadcasters to be ethically challenged in a lot of different ways, but even this has surpassed my wildest imagination," said Joel Kaplan, associate dean at the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, to The New York Times. On the other hand (or foot), some said Andrews is more performer than journalist. "I think Erin would be the first person to tell you that she's an entertainer, and certainly everything in her career has been in the entertainment field," countered Bob Dorfman, creative director of Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.

Erin Andrews' secret battle with cervical cancer

Only after the 2016 regular NFL season — after not missing a single game — did Erin Andrews reveal that she'd been battling cervical cancer, reported Sports Illustrated in late January 2017. She was reportedly diagnosed in September 2016, as the season got underway, and had surgery in October. "Two days after the procedure, she flew to Green Bay to shoot a segment with Packers star Jordy Nelson," reported TMZ.

"Should I have been standing for a full game five days after surgery? Let's just say the doctor didn't recommend that," Andrews told Sports Illustrated. "But just as I felt during my trial, sports were my escape. I needed to be with my crew."

Erin Andrews turned her cancer diagnosis into a cause

In 2018, around a year-and-a-half after her diagnosis, Erin Andrews was finally declared cervical cancer-free. She recounted to InStyle the moment backstage on the set of Dancing with the Stars when she received the joyous news. "I thought, 'Oh God, of course this is going to happen when I'm trying to get into a pair of spanks [sic] and some sequin number on a Monday,'" she told the magazine. "Everyone on my team knew that I was waiting [for the call from her oncologist], and when I saw the number calling, I put it on speakerphone. The doctor said, 'You're good to go, and I'll see you in six months for a checkup,' and it was a ton of relief."

Although Andrews told WUSA9 in 2019 she remained fearful of a possible relapse, one thing that eases her own anxiety is spreading the message to other women about the importance of early screenings — specifically getting Pap and HPV tests. "The message we want to get out to women is: They have to go get tested," she said, pointing out that cervical cancer is preventable as well as treatable with proactive testing. "The stats are insane and they don't need to be this way. But every two hours a female dies of cervical cancer. We've got to change that."

Contending with a double standard

Sexism in sports is nothing new, and for Erin Andrews, her job covering the NFL includes countless derogatory comments — from internet trolls to cat-calling fans in the stands. Andrews has been vocal about sexism in sports and sports media, but during the peep-hole trial, she referenced a more insidious form of discrimination. "Probably for like three months, everybody thought it was a publicity stunt...and that ripped me apart," she said during testimony.

Star Tribune sports columnist Michael Rand discussed some of the vitriolic comments the paper had received from online readers, including this gem: "I hope she doesn't get a bloody nickel. An attractive lady who's been privileged every second of her life wants $75 million b/c she experienced the slightest bit of discomfort. Who cares?... She's just embarrassed b/c her body is a total meh fest, nothing special!"

In a 2016 interview with The Huffington Post, Andrews discussed the double standard in her industry. "I think it's hilarious when people have a problem with, 'Oh, she's wearing this,' or, 'She's got hair extensions.' It's so funny to me because I always bring up the fact that people are so worried about what I'm doing or that I care about the way I look." She points out that her male colleagues, including Michael Strahan, Howie Long, and Terry Bradshaw (among others) all dress to the nines and have their hair and makeup professionally done before each broadcast.

Erin Andrews kicked up drama on Dancing with the Stars

In 2010, Erin Andrews appeared on Season 10 of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. She and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy placed third. In 2014, she returned to the show as a judge, but rumors soon surfaced that Andrews was stepping on toes.

A source told Life & Style that Andrews was " arrogant, obnoxious and difficult to deal with... The cast and crew can't wait for her to leave after each show." An insider for Radar Online claimed, "Several members of the crew recall what an absolute diva Erin was when she was on the show as a contestant. It was common for Erin to be complaining about her costume, and demanding last minute changes."

According to E! News, DWTS Executive Producer Conrad Green said the allegations about Andrews "couldn't be further from the truth," adding, "Erin and our entire cast have been getting on brilliantly." Considering she's remained on the show for years, we're willing to bet Green is telling the truth.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck slammed Erin Andrews' DWTS outfits

Former talk show host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who is apparently a big fan of Dancing with the Stars, had some choice words for Andrews in 2010 when the sideline reporter was competing on the show. As a co-anchor on The View, Hasselbeck said Erin Andrews' outfits during the competition were too revealing (and that's a nice way of putting it).

To be more precise, Hasselbeck said Andrews' stalker — who videotaped her naked without her consent two years earlier — might have saved himself some trouble if he'd just waited for her performances on DWTS. "I mean, in some way if I'm him," Hasselbeck said, "I'm like, 'Man! I just could've waited 12 weeks and seen this — a little bit less — without the prison time!'"

The backlash from the public was intense. Andrews even weighed in, describing Hasselbeck's remarks (via People) as "a slap in the face to victims of stalking and sexual predators." She also said, "As a mother and a woman, I'm disappointed she went there." It took Hasselbeck exactly one day to issue tearful apology for her comments.  

Wait, there's even more Dancing with the Stars drama?

In 2019, Erin Andrews twirled into more Dancing with the Stars drama, this time while co-hosting alongside Tom Bergeron on the show. When Season 28 winner Hannah Brown and her partner, Alan Bernsten, were announced, quite a few DWTS viewers noted and criticized Andrews' stoic reaction, according to the Daily Mail. One such user tweeted in a rather lengthy diatribe, "Can Erin Andrews' facial expressions be any more obvious? Shouldn't she at least appear unbiased? Not sure who she wanted to win, but at least she could pretend to be happier for the winner no matter who it is."

Andrews did not fail to clap back at the onslaught of negative feedback on her own Twitter feed, insisting her critics were reading too heavily into it. Her lack of reaction was a calculated response to spare the feelings of the second-place contestants, Andrews explained: "I'm standing next to the couple that just got second place. And if I had cheered, you'd be killing me for going against Kel, Lauren, and Ally. Not that serious people!"

Erin Andrews' husband was arrested at a pool party

Andrews was involved in a scandal by proxy when her then-boyfriend, former NHL player Jarret Stoll, was arrested in Las Vegas for allegedly trying to take drugs into a pool party in April 2015. According to USA Today, "Security guards at MGM Grand's Wet Republic pool found what police believed to be 3.3 grams of cocaine and several ecstasy capsules in Stoll's pocket." He was reportedly sentenced to 32 hours of community service with the Salvation Army.

When the incident occurred, Andrews and Stoll had been dating for about three years, though for much of that time the relationship was a secret. "I have no idea what tomorrow will bring," Andrews told Redbook (via Us Weekly) in the wake of the arrest. "We're brought up thinking our lives are going to be a Taylor Swift song. Then you get older and wiser. You don't know what is going to bring you happiness."

Tomorrow brought a marriage proposal at Disney Land toward the end of 2016, and Andrews said yes.

Jarret Stoll and Erin Andrews got married on a mountaintop

After four years of dating—during a period that included an arrest, cancer, and reliving the painful ordeal of being filmed by a stalker—Andrews and Stoll cemented their commitment to each other by tying the knot at the Yellowstone Club in Montana on June 24, 2017. According to Us Weekly, the couple exchanged vows while celebrity guests, including Larry David and Joe Buck, enjoyed the scenery. Their wedding day reportedly coincided with Stoll's 35th birthday (which should make remembering their anniversary a piece of cake.) Andrews said the former NHL star was an "amazing" support system during her cancer scare and was so involved in the wedding planning that he even helped with the calligraphy on the invitations.

Erin Andrews is not giving up on having kids

Despite her battle with cervical cancer, Erin Andrews told Health magazine that she had some embryos frozen before the health scare and began the in-vitro fertilization process while planning her wedding. For those who don't know, IVF involves lots of injections with big needles. Fun times!

"I'd like to say I get used to it," she told Health, "but I'm in the bathroom, playing Walt Disney World Pandora to have something light on, and I stuck myself really hard one time and I nailed a blood vessel, and I started screaming! My man was in the other room watching Seinfeld, and I said, 'Dammit.' He's like, 'I love you!' And I was like, 'Yeah, you better!' We went from football to everything that happened to freezing embryos—mixing hormones and wedding planning."

Don't count Andrews out as a sportscaster when she becomes a mom. "For me, it's having the career, having the family, and having the happiness," she said. "I think it's possible that I'll be able to have a kid and be able to do this for a living. We're just gonna have to figure out how."

No, Erin Andrews didn't ruin Pam Oliver's career

On Sept. 3, 2014, veteran NFL correspondent Pam Oliver penned an open letter to Essence, expressing sadness and humiliation over losing her job as a primetime sideline reporter to Erin Andrews. Fox Sports reportedly told Oliver that its fledgling sub-network, FS1, could use a veteran like Oliver to build up its credibility, but to Oliver, the shift felt like a passive-aggressive way of saying she was too old aesthetically for the big leagues.

"The business is very demographic-oriented. As one executive said to me, 'Fox Sports will look radically different in the coming years,'" Oliver wrote. "I assume that means they want to look younger. It's not difficult to notice that the new on-air people there are all young, blond and 'hot.' That's not to say that Erin isn't capable. I think she's very capable. She's also popular on Twitter and social media, so I can see how that would also make her highly sought after." 

Unsurprisingly, according to Sports Illustrated, it turned out less than ideal for Fox Sports' image that it appeared to force out Oliver, a reporter who had held her position for two decades, for a woman with a younger look. Thus, in 2015, Fox invited Oliver back to the sidelines alongside announcers Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch for the 2015-2016 NFL seasons, a decision that shocked Oliver. "I think I was silent for a good 10 seconds and then screamed out, What?," she told Sports Illustrated.

Erin Andrews 'dazzled' at the University of Florida

Before her career as a sideline reporter and before her star-studded turn on Dancing with the Stars, Andrews combined those two passions at her college alma mater. The clip above shows Andrews performing with the University of Florida "Dazzlers" (aka Gator basketball dance team). She was also a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. 

Was Erin Andrews too 'Hollywood' for ESPN?

Did Erin Andrews not take her former ESPN job seriously? That would appear to be the assessment of her erstwhile College GameDay coworker, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. According to the New York Post, the famed college football analyst painted an unflattering description of Andrews' behavior at staff meetings for the show, detailing how the reporter would often scroll through celebrity gossip websites in the midst of discussing business. Howard launched into his tirade on a 2018 episode of the James Andrew Miller-hosted podcast Origins that explored the roots of College GameDay, recalling, "In the meetings, she had some stuff going on with Dancing with the Stars or whatever. So, she was kind of like into that Hollywood scene. I remember we're in a meeting and she was talking about Perez Hilton."

By contrast, Howard had only compliments to offer about Andrews' ESPN replacement, Samantha Ponder, suggesting that she was much less concerned with the more frivolous side of showbiz reporting than Andrews. "She's not that Hollywood type at all... she's not trying to follow all the news in Hollywood and what's going on with Dancing with the Stars," Howard remarked. "She was still quirky, but she took her job serious."

Andrews appeared to respond that same week to Howard's burning slights, answering a fan's tweet welcoming to her to Minnesota with the cheeky rejoinder, "Love it... maybe not 'Hollywood' enough for me though." Good for her for going high!

Did Jimmy G shoot his shot?

Minor controversy for Erin Andrews stirred again in 2019, suggesting that the culture of sexist rhetoric and its subsequent fallout will always linger around her. The reporter had just interviewed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo following his team's significant win over the Arizona Cardinals that lifted their winning streak to 8-0 that October, reported NBCSports. "How does it feel?" Andrews asked Garoppolo of the victory. "Feels great, baby," Garoppolo replied. Three simple, seemingly benign words on the surface, right? Not where Andrews is concerned, apparently. The video of the interview went viral and social media lit up with chatter, with one Twitter user commenting, "I hope someone told him she's married" and others even proclaiming that Garoppolo's words were potential "workplace harassment," reported Independent.

Garoppolo shot down insinuations he made the "baby" reference with any gendered connotation, according to NBCSports. He explained at a press conference the following week that he and his teammates brandish the term to each other "500 times a game." Andrews, for her part, suggested she was copacetic with Garoppolo's choice of vernacular when she shared a Tweet from 49ers left tackle Joe Stanley. Stanley appeared to paraphrase the interaction when he celebrated the team's undefeated streak, posting, "8-0!!! Feels great baby!!!" Andrews even added a series of clapping emojis in her retweet.

Erin Andrews works hard to avoid scandals

During her interview with Health, Erin Andrews admitted that she hid her cancer diagnosis because it came on the heels of her trial over the stalking video, and she didn't want to make any more waves with her male colleagues.

"Working with a bunch of men, I didn't wanna be like, 'Sooo, they think I have cervical cancer,' she said. "and they'd be like, 'Where's your cervix?' But I'd also come off this huge trial that was kind of the focus of the summer, and I don't want to be the girl that always has the problems at the table."

While that sure sounds like another unfortunate example of sexism, it also speaks to Andrews' dedication to being taken seriously as a sportscaster. Case in point, as the 2017 NFL season started, People reports that Andrews scrambled to make sure one of her outfits wouldn't be too revealing for TV, and even went so far as to pull an old pajama top out of her suitcase to avoid a fiasco. "I didn't spill any syrup on it from my breakfast, so no one could tell I slept in it the night before!" she said.

Andrews could have just as easily worn her original crop top and weathered a few headlines about showing too much skin, but the incident showed that she's as determined as ever to get by on her talent and isn't about to give the haters any ammo.

She gracefully accepted her abrupt DWTS exit

In July 2020, ABC shocked Dancing with the Stars fans when it announced that Erin Andrews, along with co-host Tom Bergeron, would not return for the 29th season of the dance competition reality show. According to People, however, the studio was adamant in its official statement that the hosts' twin exits were nothing personal, attributing them to "a new creative direction" for the long-running series. ABC said of Andrews' departure, "Fans have been rooting for her since she originally competed as a contestant back in 2010, and her signature sense of humor has become a hallmark of the show."

For her part, Andrews immediately took to Twitter to express an apparent lack of hard feelings for her and Bergeron's abrupt removal. "Thank you ABC and the entire Dancing with the Stars family for six memorable seasons. Those years wouldn't have been as special without my loving host Tom Bergeron, the talented dancers and witty judges. I will always cherish my days on that set, even if I wasn't the best at walking in heels," she tweeted warmly.

DWTS judge Carrie Anne Inaba, who is staying for the 29th season according to People, shared her emotional reaction to Andrews' and Bergeron's sudden leaving. She told The Talk that her heart "breaks for Tom and Erin. I cried when I heard the news ... I think a lot of our fans did."