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ESPN fires handicapper Kelly Stewart over slurs in 2012 tweets

Las Vegas-based handicapper Kelly Stewart has been fired by ESPN one month after the network hired her, apparently because of the use of anti-gay slurs on Twitter nine years ago.

Stewart, a longtime Review-Journal contributor, confirmed the news on Twitter and released a detailed statement, apologizing for the language while saying it was in reaction to online attacks against her.

“ESPN has notified me that they terminated my contract due to deleted tweets from 2012,” the statement begins. “I know the words I used are unacceptable and hurtful and I am terribly sorry for this lapse in judgment, but I cannot apologize for standing up to the vicious attacks I, and so many other female personalities, endure from anonymous online trolls.”

Screenshots of Stewart’s tweets show her using anti-gay slurs in replies to people criticizing her on Twitter.

FrontOfficeSports.com said an ESPN spokesman confirmed Stewart’s departure but declined to explain the reasoning.

In her statement, Stewart cited “vile, threatening, and misogynistic attacks from men who were threatened by a woman daring to attempt to make a living in the overwhelmingly male sports gambling industry.”

“I responded to their threats of violence and sexist insults with the most powerful language I could think to use,” she said. “A decade later, I wish I hadn’t made the decision to respond to their vitriol with my own, but I cannot change my past.”

Stewart had been set to serve as an analyst on “Daily Wager,” the one-hour weekday sports betting news and information show on ESPN2 that airs from ESPN’s studio at The Linq Hotel. She also was set to appear on “SportsCenter,” the “Daily Wager” podcast and other ESPN programs and sports betting platforms.

Stewart had planned to start working at ESPN this month.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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