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Q&A with ESPN's Michelle Beadle

Michelle Beadle’s wild 10ish year ride: Austin, breeding dogs in Canada, Florida, the rodeo, reality show on the travel channel, People Magazine, baseball, the Nets, and ESPN. She has something of a cult following on the internet (see the title of this video). There’s even a website named after her. She’s going to be hosting a new show on ABC starting Saturday, “Winner’s Bracket,” with former San Diego Chargers’ lineman Marcellus Wiley. It’s on at 5 pm, so you can watch it before the Final Four. We interviewed Beadle this week.

Q: Did you target TV as an industry you wanted to be a part of back in high school? College?

A: I didn’t set out to do any of this. I didn’t do any of this in high school. I actually wanted to be a lawyer from when I was about six. I thought I was going to be a corporate lawyer because I heard they made a lot of money. I went to college and did political science, joined the law group, worked at the capital in Austin and then three years into it, I decided I didnt want to do that and took three years off. It terrified my parents.

Q: Was there a singular moment that made you give up the lawyer aspirations? Or was this a gradual thing?

A: I joined one of those law frat things – men and women – and I was going to the meetings and I realized I had no interest in being a lawyer anymore. I lost the whole idealism about going into politics and just became disillusioned with it. Then I realized it was killing my GPA cause I wasn’t going to class and I didnt know what I wanted to do. All my credits were geared toward [law school] and I was just wasting a lot of time and my parents money. So I just left. Took off, went to Florida, went to Canada, did nothing. it was brutal.

Q: What did you do in Canada?

A: When I was in Austin, I interned, randomly, for a minor league hockey team. My best friends were doing it. I made friends with some of the guys that played, so when I took three years off, I went to places where I knew people. One of those places was Peterborough, Ontario, where I learned about breeding Great Danes. It was very random. I was also in Pensacola, Florida. A bizarre three years. One day I woke up and took the bus back down to Dallas … and I couldn’t take the bus anymore so I flew home. Cananda was great, but it was very … not productive. I drank a lot of strong beer and really just hung out. I realized I was getting older and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was a perfectionist in high school, and it all just caught up to me. I knew I had to figure something out. So I got back to Austin and waited tables while trying to figure it out.

Q: Never met someone who’s actually worked in a rodeo. How’d that come about?

A: It was like learning another language. I went into it filling in for someone – they had hired Miss USA or Miss America, one of those people, to be a sideline person – and she needed two weeks off to give her crown back. I filled in and they wanted to hire me full-time. Cowboys were different than anyone I had ever been around. It was like something out of a movie. So nice, so real, and very welcoming. It was a really good experience. I was the person who, when Cody got off a bull, I would say, ‘tell us about that ride.’ There’s not a whole lot you can ask about a ride. Did it buck like you wanted it to?

Q: What was after the rodeo?

A: I went to the Travel Channel and did a year hosting a show called, ‘Get Packing.’ I got to live in Miami. It was a dating/reality show. In a nutshell, the premise was that there was a contestant and two potential suitors. The contestant left their house for the day, and the two suitors have 10 minutes to run through the house and gauge what the person was like. Then they had a few hundred dollars to go shopping for that person. Then, the person would open a suitcase and look through the stuff that was bought, and we sent the winners away on trips to the Caribbean. The idea was kinda good, but it was bizarre to have it on the Travel Channel. I was the host and had the least embarrassing role on the show. I just counted and made fun of people. It was pretty easy.

Then i did a season of a show called Cathedrals of the Game where i went to 15 baseball parks and to Cooperstown. Interviewed some baseball players … I think the MLB Network still airs it.

Q: After that had to come the Nets job, right?

The Nets thing came as a result of this reality show on the YES Network – Ultimate Road Trip. We did three seasons of it, which is shocking to say out loud. We would take Yankees fans – die-hards – and send them to all 162 games. There were weird challenges along the way. I hosted that for three seasons. The funny thing was that the Yankees allowed no access. Even though we were part of the YES Network, we couldn’t air footage. We had to do everything with stills.

Q: Which leads us to the your jump shooting ability and the hot dog gif.

Who is responsible for putting that in slow motion? (laughs). All those stupid little things I did on that show – Where’s Beadle, or whatever it was called – is because we were all set for the Nets to have the worst season the year before this. The timing couldn’t have been worse. We planned to do stupid things at every game, but the hot dog thing … I decided I was going to eat an entire hot dog while interviewing someone. It seemed like a good idea. I should have realized that it’d be on the internet.

Q: Is that your least favorite moment that is immortalized on the web?

A: I don’t take any of it too seriously. If that’s the worst thing that happens … to me it’s just funny. It could be much, much worse.

Q: What kind of obstacles are women in the sports media up against? Traditionally, it has been a male-dominated profession.

I’m not naive or dumb .. I realize we’re looked at differently, whether it be our age, our looks … some are taken more seriously than others, and some taken themselves way more seriously than others. We’re getting it from both ends. Women are the cruelest to each other. I tend to just be around the people I really enjoy working with. I like coming to work … nobody makes me feel like I’m on high guard.

You have to be smart. You use what you can to your advantage and make sure you know what you’re talking about or you’re a) not going to last very long or b) never going to get a good job. I think we’ve come a long way and probably still have a ways to go, but … I just dont take any of this super seriously. I’m not curing cancer and I’m not a doctor. It’s just television. I dont know why some people get so worked up about it.

Q: After the Tony Kornheiser-Hannah Storm … whatever that was … did you consider re-thinking any wardrobe choices?

Absolutely not. First of all, if I looked like Hannah, I would … wow. I’d wear so many different things! I mean … we’re still women, we still ilke Cosmo and Vogue and fashion and shoes and clothes and I wont apologize for that because I happen to like sports, also. I still want to look trendy and hip. Does that mean every outfit is good?

No (laughter). Sometimes you go back and say, ‘what was I thinking?’ But no, it did not make me rethinking anything. If anything, I just thought it was a bit ridiculous that anyone should care.

Q: Why do you hate Texas A&M?

A: I went to school in Austin, the greatest city in Texas. By a longshot. My interaction with Aggies in HS and in college – in college station, in particular – were not fun. I didn’t get it. It was like going to high school again. Plus, when you grow up in Texas, you’re either a Longhorn or an Aggie. Some people take it super seriously. They will not buy a maroon car, or anything orange … it’s ridiculous. I love Austin. You couldn’t have paid me to go to College Station. But im sure it’s very nice (laughs).

Q: So the single life in Bristol is …

I actually live in Hartford during the week. If you’re single when you come here, you’re probably going to die here single. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Luckily we work a lot, and I have this new show, so I don’t have time to worry about it. It takes a lot of getting used to – if at all – coming from NY. It’s not like I had a big social life in NY, but at least I had options. And you can’t date anyone you work with, so you’re pretty much stuck.

Q: Best bar in Bristol/Hartford?

A: Oh, what are you doing (laughter). It’s not even by choice … if anything, I go to eat dinner here and drink wine … but as far as bars go … I’ve probably been to one bar a few times … the Black Bear. But I’m not endorsing it. I’m just saying I’ve gone there because it’s convenient.

Q: Any thoughts on your rising internet fame? How are your friends and family handling it?

A: It cracks me up. I think my parents and friends got a bigger kick out it than anything. I try not to read any of those things anymore. As much as people are nice … I only pay attention to the negative comments. My friends and my family are constantly telling me about what people are saying. They get a kick out of it. I think my dad loves it. He may never say that out loud, but I think he does. My mom will google me, and find someone who said something about me and say, ‘who is this jerk?’ I just tell her not to read that stuff, just look at the good stuff.

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