ESPN severs relationship with singer Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr., pictured on September 12, compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in an interview this week on Fox News.
October 6th, 2011
10:33 AM ET

ESPN severs relationship with singer Hank Williams Jr.

ESPN says it has severed its relationship with singer Hank Williams Jr. following controversy over his remarks comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

"We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years," a statement on ESPN's site said. "The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue."

Williams gave a very different statement: "After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE.  It's been a great run."

On Tuesday the singer had apologized Tuesday for his remarks which resulted in "Monday Night Football" pulling his popular musical introduction from this week's game.

"I have always been very passionate about politics and sports and this time it got the best or worst of me.

"The thought of the leaders of both parties jukin' [sic] and high fiven' [sic] on a golf course, while so many families are struggling to get by, simply made me boil over and make a dumb statement, and I am very sorry if it offended anyone. I would like to thank all my supporters. This was not written by some publicist," Williams wrote.

Williams made the comparison on Fox News this week when he was asked about Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, playing on the same team in a June golf game.

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soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. Mark L.

    "...♫♫...Now tell me Hank, why do you drink? Why do you roll smoke??...♫♫..." Why is it that everything you do is such a dang JOKE !!!! LMAO....

    October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • AM:Hate Radio

      1. Comparing The President Of The USA To Hitler

      2. Calling The President Of The USA "The Enemy"

      3. Calling The President Of The USA & VP Joe Biden "The 3 Stooges"

      4. When Fox & Friends Asked Hank Jr, "Who's The Enemy"...

      Hank Jr Replies Loudly: OBAMA !!!!!!

      This Man Is a Hateful, Hate Filled Southern Burning Cross [Racist]

      Good Riddance To A Big Stack of [Racist Trash]

      October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wayne

    I.m so old I remember when the Dixie Chicks were attacked endlessly for saying " They were embarrassed to be from the same state as George Bush' Something about 'we are at war ' how treasonous.. Were still at war. What has changed?
    I wonder.... I wonder...mmmmmmm

    October 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Javier

    Espn shouldnt care what his political opinions are, their product is sports, not politics. Sports is not a left or right issue, so espn shouldnt be worried about the image he potrays. Hes a monkey who sings a song at the beginning of a show. So he has an opinion. If we werent so hypersensitive to being seen as anti semetic, maybe people could have read the words that came out of his mouth before the "H" word. He didnt compare Obama or Boehner to anyone, he was commenting on the pairing of 2 people who are so completely opposed to each others ideas playing golf and trying to act like friends while the work they should be doing goes unfinished. How is no one else seeing that?

    October 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Then stop watching espn. They are a company, like any other. They didn't do anything illegal. That's how consumers 'punish' companies they trade with.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angeh

      ESPN has to be concerned with their own image, no??

      October 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Javier

      Lets go back and look at a different situation. Who Remembers Al Campanis, GM of the LA Dodgers saying when asked about the lack of black managers in baseball that he didnt think blacks had the capacity to manage at that level. That was a truly deplorable, and offensive opinion to share on a nationally televised show, and the Dodgers were right to fire him. How can you have the person in charge of getting the best people for the company have thinking that backwards. This was the organization that broke the color barrier in baseball. They couldnt have people thinking that this was the organizations mindset. Now im not saying that ESPN did anything illegal, or that they dont have the right to hire and fire at will, im just saying that they, (and a lot of other people) overreacted. What does ESPN loose by having the clown (Colorful, flashy entertainer) who sings their theme song voice his opinion on a matter that has NOTHING to do with their core buisiness. its not as if you had one of their PR people speaking at a diversity in broadcasting conference saying that there are too many Jews in the entertainment industry, or that asians just dont make good sportscasters (these are not my opinions by the way, just examples to illustrate) I think CNN is wrong to say he compared Obama to Hitler.He didnt. He could have said it would be like the Hatfields and McCoys playing a round and it would be no less offensive. As far as saying that Obama is the Enemy, dont his opponents say as much every day?

      October 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elsie I

      ESPN's business is not sport...it's money. Hank's rant had the potential of hitting ESPN in the bottomline, so he had to go. As for Hank's First Amendment Rights....he certainly has the right to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whomever he wants....but his employers and sponsors have the right to decide whether or not they choose to associate with him.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Calling the President of the United States an enemy of the United States on television isn't a political statement. It's completely delusional and career suicide.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Javier

      how many times will i have to say here that i dont think that ESPN did anything illegal, or that they dont have the right to hire and fire at will? The issue for me is overreaction. and oversensitivity. And the fact that what he said wasnt offensive. Ill admit, i didnt get very far in economics in school, but how do his comments have the potential to hurt the bottom line. ESPN is in business to make money. but they do it by selling sports coverage and reporting. do you really think people would stop watching MNF if they left his song on? as long as the veiwers are there, the advertisers will run their ads. Again, Conservative media spends all day calling obama an enemy to america and its way of life their careers are doing just fine. Ann Coulter?? Bill O'riley?? Rush Limbaugh?

      October 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justathought

    I didn't know what Williams said, I had to go to th internet. I saw nothing so very offensive in what he said. I bet if we could get the root of this being an offensive statement it was probably some Jewish person who just doesn't want to hear anything about Hitler–no matter what the context. What was it a couple weeks ago? a trinket in a 7-11 store that a Jewish person took offense to a cartoon character just because the mustache resembled Hitler's– some Jewish people are just too sinsitive! The cartoon character didn't even come close to looking like Hitler. I think taking offense to Williams' statement is the same rediculous mentality.

    October 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • AM:Hate Radio

      You Saw, Nor Heard Anything Offensive..Please

      1. Comparing The President Of The USA To Hitler

      2. Calling The President Of The USA "The Enemy"

      3. Calling The President Of The USA & VP Joe Biden "The 3 Stooges"

      4. When Fox & Friends Asked Hank Jr, "Who's The Enemy"...

      Hank Jr Replies Loudly: OBAMA !!!!!!

      This Man Is a Hateful, Hate Filled Southern Burning Cross [Racist]

      Good Riddance To A Big Stack of [Racist Trash]

      October 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angeh

      Seriously? If you don't think it's offensive to compare Obama to Hitler (which is just, confusing if true), then how about this: I take offense at H2s insisting that Bohner shouldn't be cooperating with Obama on ANYTHING, even a simple golf game. That's the kind of deplorable thinking that has brought this country low.

      October 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      I'll chime in just once as an impartial outside observer, then get out of the way.

      I too had to search a bit for the comments. For some reason, CNN did not see fit to include the original comments in this blog. Williams DID NOT say Obama was Hitler. He said that Boehner playing golf with Obama. He said that this was playing golf with the enemy. He compared it to Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.

      He also makes a good point that it seems to be fair game to throw all sorts of horrible accusations at the GOP/ Tea Party, such as racism, but you dare not say anything about Obama.

      October 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. THE ONE AND ONLY DRAKOREX1

    RIGHT ON HANK! GOTTA LOVE HIM.P C OR NOT.

    October 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • AM:Hate Radio

      Who is Hank Williams Jr [????]

      Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish & The Stench, Who Love The Smell Of His [Trash]

      October 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    Non-news, insignificant person getting significant publicity.

    October 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Angeh

    People forget that our right to free speech only extends to the government infringing upon it. ESPN on the other hand can infringe upon anyone they want, as can any business or individual. We are all free to express our opinion, but they do come with consequences. Thank you ESPN. This wing nut crossed the line and a strong message was in order. And I was a fan.... 🙁

    October 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. President Obama

    Who cares. Country music sucks anyway.

    Go ahead rednecks. Get mad. I don't need your votes. HA HA HA HA HA HA HAH!

    October 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. justathought

    I read nothing that Williams called Obama the enemey. All I read is that he compared two different golf games with the oppoents of radicaly different views. I'll keep to myself what I think of Obama, because like Thumper's mother said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything.

    October 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Justin

    Well he just revealed he doesn't understand freedom of speech at all. He is of course free to say what he wants, and he did. ESPN also has the right to not do business with him.

    You are of course free to say what you want, and the government cannot take action to silence you (except in specific cases where you infringe others rights), but you are not free from social or economic consequences of others exercise their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association in response to what you say. What a moron.

    October 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve Scrivani

    These are the type of comments you get from people with a 5th Grade education!

    October 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BobNAlabama

    This guy is a redneck goon, and most certainly does not represent Alabamians in general!

    October 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Donald in CA

    Good riddance. You have found out there are consequences to trying to be the resident comedian on fox. Now you can ride on back to the ranch and drink enough old crow wiskey till you start looking like that crow on the bottle.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick in AZ

    I saw this interview. At no time did Hank Jr. compare Obama to Hitler. He made an ANALOGY (you can look it up on Dictionary.com).
    ESPN certainly has the right to cut ties with whomever they chose and for whatever reason. Pretty soon, we'll all be getting a letter in the mail letting us know what WE can and can't say.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    It's a real shame CNN didn't have the integrity to post the actual quote from Williams. He did NOT compare Obama to Hitler, and ESPN's reaction seems way overblown.

    October 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
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