ESPN and Special Olympics Reach New Programming and Unified Sports® Sponsorship Agreements

Special Olympics

ESPN and Special Olympics Reach New Programming and Unified Sports® Sponsorship Agreements

  • ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports® renewed and expanded
  • ESPN will be Official Media Partner through 2019 including Special Olympic World Games and Special Olympics USA Games, plus deliver additional year-round coverage and content

ESPN and Special Olympics have committed to continuing their alliance to leverage the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance by reaching two agreements:  a new, three-year global programming agreement and an extension, and expansion, of ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports®

“ESPN is not just a broadcaster or sponsor, but our partner in building positive attitudes about athletes with intellectual disabilities,” said Mary Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Special Olympics.  “As our movement continues to break down negative stigma, we are thrilled that ESPN will be opening hearts and minds through sports television sharing the gifts and talents of our Special Olympics athletes with the world and helping us invite everyone to join our movement for inclusion.”

Added John Skipper, ESPN President and co-Chair of Disney Media Networks, “Over the past three years, ESPN has deepened a long-standing relationship with the Special Olympics movement. Through our support of Unified Sports and our coverage of remarkable Special Olympics events and athletes, we’ve been reminded of the profound impact sport can have and inspired by the incredible moments and stories we’ve brought to millions of fans. Inclusion and acceptance are values we believe in, and we are both proud and excited to continue working with Special Olympics in the coming years.”

Multi-year Programming Agreement
The new global programming agreement will see ESPN continue as an Official Broadcaster of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, and the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, as well as providing additional news and feature coverage of other Special Olympics events, athletes and stories over the course of the three year agreement. The agreement follows coverage and programming around the LA2015 Special Olympics World Games last July.

Special Olympics World Games are the world’s largest sports and humanitarian events on the globe. ESPN’s coverage of the World Games and USA Games events will include a combination of competition highlights and studio programming, features, news stories and more. Other ESPN coverage of the Special Olympics movement over the course of the agreement will include news, features, vignettes, interviews, magazine programs and more across ESPN digital and print media platforms.
ESPN’s coverage of the major events will reach fans around the world via its networks and media platforms in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  In addition, Special Olympics and ESPN will work together to explore additional local media partners.

Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports®
ESPN is also proud to announce its continued support as the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®, extending a role it has held since 2013. Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

For the last three years ESPN has invested more than $3 million and strategically used its multi-platform media assets and marketing expertise to expand Unified Sports globally. Today, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive sports strategy, to more than 1 million participants. As part of the continued support of Unified Sports, ESPN will invest in Special Olympics’ goal to building Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools by 2020.

Kevin Martinez, Vice President Corporate Citizenship, said, “ESPN is pleased to be expanding our 30+ year partnership with Special Olympics.  In addition to being the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, ESPN will be supporting Special Olympics with an innovative program and will be sharing content and storytelling around using the power of sport to inspire social change, to raise awareness of Unified Sports to fans worldwide.”

About Special Olympics International
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1.4 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and nearly 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics,,, and

About the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017
With more than 3,000 athletes and 1,100 coaches representing 110 countries, along with 3,000 volunteers and an anticipated tens of thousands of spectators, the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games – being hosted in Austria March 14 – 25, 2017 – will be the largest sports-and-humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2017.  The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature nine sports in three regions in Austria – Graz, Schladming and Ramsau.  The Opening Ceremony, to be held March 18, 2017, in Schladming, Austria, at the WM-Stadium Planai, site of the 1993 Special Olympics World Games, the 2013 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and numerous other World Cup skiing circuit events. Current prominent ambassadors and sponsors include Arnold Schwarzenegger and ski stars Marcel Hirscher, Hans Knauss, Mario Stecher and Michael Tritscher and actor August Schmoelzer. For more information on the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit Austria2017.

ESPN and Special Olympics
ESPN is proud of its relationship with the Special Olympics, which spans more than 30 years.

It is the global media partner for the 2017 Special Olympics World Games, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games and the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, and previously provided multi-platform coverage of Special Olympics World Games Los Angles (LA2015) as well as coverage of the 2011 World Games in Athens on ESPN3.

Since 2013, ESPN has been the Global Presenting Sponsor and Official Media Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, which bring athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together as teammates.

ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to 

Special Olympics:   Christy Weir (202) 824-0307, [email protected]
ESPN:                        Paul Melvin +1 860 766 5069, [email protected]




Teri Couch

I oversee our company archives and manage our media website (ESPN Press Room). I also help out with PR efforts around our partnership with Special Olympics.
Back to top button