May 25, 2024


Exercise makes you strong

Allyson Felix, Chloe Kim lead Variety Sports Breakfast talks

Some of the top names on America’s sports landscape are ready to share their insights at the Variety Sports and Entertainment Breakfast presented by City National Bank, set for July 21 at the Maybourne in Beverly Hills. From groundbreaking athletes to top industry heads, the morning looks to paint a vivid picture of today’s sports and entertainment scene.

Opening remarks from Variety chief marketing officer Dea Lawrence and Richard A. Raffetto, president of City National Bank, will kick off the morning of conversations. Following the remarks, Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton will lead the first keynote conversation in a discussion with Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and sports content at Walt Disney Co.

ESPN, a household name throughout the world, is at the forefront of the sports business. Through its extensive programming, ESPN has set the standard for sports entertainment for decades. For Pitaro, ESPN’s power lies with the fans.

“Our mission says it all, our job is to serve sports fans, anytime, anywhere, and that is our north star,” he says. “ESPN does that in a variety of ways. We are focused on learning about and expanding our audience by making data-driven decisions. We also stay close with all of our league partners, who value our direct connection with sports fans. We share a common goal of serving fans with creativity and excellence so we take a ‘we’re all in this together’ approach in innovating and giving fans what they want, now and in the future.”

Elizabeth Wagmeister, Variety senior correspondent, will then host a keynote conversation with Chloe Kim, Olympic champion  snowboarder, and her agent, Lowell Taub. Kim, who is only 22 years old, is setting records left and right, already becoming one the highest-paid female snowboarders of all time.

At the age of 17, she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding gold
medal with her performance in the woman’s halfpipe event. This year, she defended that title with yet another gold medal in halfpipe.

Taub, also the founder of Stoked Management, met Kim when she was 13. Almost instantly, Taub saw that Kim was something special. “You know, part of the reason that agents sign 14-year-old prodigies is because you hope that this moment comes,” Taub says. “That they dominate their sport while continuing to evolve as a person and a young woman. And I’ve often said you kind of couldn’t make Chloe Kim up in the

The morning is set to keep rolling as Fara Leff, chief operating officer at Klutch Sports, and Jamal Henderson, chief content officer at the SpringHill Co., will take part in a keynote conversation on the state of the sports and entertainment business. Todd Burach, senior vice president and senior relationship manager at City National Bank, will interview the duo.

Klutch Sports Group, the agency founded by NBA superstar LeBron James and agent Rich Paul, is behind some of the biggest names in sports, including Anthony Davis and Ben
Simmons. Likewise, the SpringHill Co., also founded by James and Maverick Carter, is looking to shake up the sports and entertainment world with its brand dedication and studio projects, including “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” For Henderson, the next step lies in continuing to push forward.

“What’s next? How do we take it up and level?” Henderson asks. “And I think it’s really exciting how the worlds are converging. What goes beyond just watching the game, and how do you tell stories around the athletes in the season?”

Finally, the breakfast will conclude with one of the greatest Olympic athletes in America’s history: Allyson Felix. The founder of sneaker company Saysh has 11 medals to her name, making her America’s most decorated track and field athlete ever. Through her physical excellence and intense dedication to social equality, Felix sets the bar
for what it means to be an American athlete.

“I’m grateful and proud of all my accomplishments in my sport, but standing and pushing for equality is my greatest role,” Felix says. “I am learning more about how to use my platform to make an impact on issues that are close to my heart particularly around supporting women and moms who are pursuing their professional goals while raising a family.”