Brett Favre files defamation lawsuits against sports commentators over welfare fraud case

ByJamiel Lynch, Dianne Gallagher and Mallika Kallingal, CNN
Friday, February 10, 2023
Texts show Mississippi governor knew of welfare payment to Brett Favre
Text messages show how deeply involved a Mississippi governor was in directing more than $1 million in welfare money to Brett Favre

JACKSON, Miss. -- In newly filed lawsuits, former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre says that sports commentators Shannon Sharpe and Pat McAfee as well as Mississippi State Auditor Shad White have defamed him.

The video featured is from a previous report.

According to the suit against Sharpe, Favre claims the Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end made "egregiously false and defamatory statements" about him on his show.

The suit claims that Sharpe called Favre a "sorry mofo to steal from the lowest of the low," and that Favre "stole money from people that really needed that money."

RELATED: Text messages reveal Miss. governor was directing more than $1M in welfare money to Brett Favre

A 2020 state audit found that tens of millions of dollars were improperly used from the state's welfare program. Portions of the money were to be used to build a volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre's alma mater, as well as $1.1 million paid to the former quarterback for a public service announcement campaign, according to investigators.

Favre returned $500,000 in May 2020 and repaid the remaining $600,000 in October 2021 after the state auditor issued a demand letter for it, according to the auditor's office. But the auditor's office maintains Favre still owes $228,000 in interest payments.

Favre has denied knowing the money he received was welfare money, saying in a statement last year that he was being "unjustly smeared in the media."

The state of Mississippi is suing Favre and others as part of a massive civil suit seeking to recoup millions in misspent welfare funds. He has not been criminally charged in the case.

RELATED: Brett Favre says he's being 'unjustly smeared,' didn't know welfare funds were misused

Favre's suit also alleges that McAfee defamed Favre on his sports podcast, when he called the former quarterback a "thief" who was "stealing from poor people in Mississippi."

CNN has reached out to Sharpe and McAfee for comment.

"We take a lot of pride in our work. We had to cover that situation and we certainly said allegedly," McAfee said Friday on his podcast. "And a lot of people are wondering how my lawyers are going to handle this. You know it -- I ain't got 'em. So, let's ride this f**ker. I'm excited to see how it goes. I'll see you in court, pal."

In suing White, the state auditor, Favre's complaint says that White has "carried out an outrageous media campaign of malicious and false accusations" against him "in a brazen attempt to leverage the media attention generated by Favre's celebrity to further his own political career."

"Everything Auditor White has said about this case is true and is backed by years of audit work by the professionals at the Office of the State Auditor. It's mind-boggling that Mr. Favre wants to have a trial about that question," White said in a statement.

"Mr. Favre has called Auditor White and his team liars despite repaying some of the money our office demanded from him. He's also claimed the auditors are liars despite clear documentary evidence showing he benefited from misspent funds. Instead of paying New York litigators to try this case, he'd be better off fully repaying the amount of welfare funds he owes the state," the statement continued.

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