Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant allegedly paid Favre $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 for motivational speeches. The money came out of federal welfare funds meant for needy families, according to NBC News. Per the Mississippi state auditor, Favre never gave those speeches. The auditor demanded the money back with interest.
Favre repaid the fees but has yet to fork over the $228,000 in interest. His lawyer, Bud Holmes, said his client never understood the money he was paid was intended to help poor children. Favre is currently not facing any criminal charges.
The case first drew attention in 2020, but came back into light this past July after the state welfare agency fired a lawyer originally hired to claw back the money. Shortly after issuing a subpoena seeking more information of the role Favre played in the scheme, Brad Pigott was fired. Pigott, a former Bill Clinton-appointed U.S. attorney, was accused of having a political agenda.
Pigott said in his first television interview since being canned that his only agenda was to seek the truth.
“The notion of tens of millions of dollars that was intended by the country to go to the alleviation of poverty — and to see it going toward very different purposes — was appalling to many of us,” Pigott said. “Mr. Favre was a very great quarterback, but having been a great NFL quarterback, he is not well acquainted with poverty.”
Brett Favre, Other Athletes Receive Money Intended for Poor Children
Favre, however, was not the only athlete to receive money through the state. The auditor found that nearly $70 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) money was spread out. Former WWE wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr. reportedly received $3.9 million for motivational speeches. Former college football star Marcus Dupree and fitness trainer Paul Lacoste were paid a combined $670,000.
$5 million was granted to the University of Southern Mississippi to build a volleyball facility. Pigott placed the blame towards Bryant and other top politicians in the state.
“Governor Bryant gave tens of millions of dollars of this TANF welfare money to a nonprofit led by a person who he knew well,” Pigott said. “and who had more connections with his political party than with the good people in Mississippi who have the heart and the skills to actually cajole people out of poverty or prevent teenage pregnancies.”