Brett Favre denies wrongdoing in Mississippi welfare fraud case

12 October 2022

Brett Favre, the former NFL player who has been linked to allegations of welfare fraud in Mississippi, said this week that journalists and the public have the story wrong.

“I have been unjustly smeared in the media,” the Hall of Fame quarterback told CBS News on Tuesday. “I have done nothing wrong, and it is past time to set the record straight.

Favre has been suspected of helping state officials redirect dollars that were meant for low-income families in Mississippi to a local nonprofit organization. He has not been charged in connection with the case. 

“No one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the university or me,” Favre said. “I tried to help my alma mater [the University of Southern Mississippi], a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university.”

Favre’s name surfaced in the scandal earlier this year when he was mentioned in an audit of Mississippi’s state budget that found state officials in 2021 funneled more than $70 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to Favre and other individuals. More specifically, state officials used a nonprofit organization to funnel $1.1 million to Favre as a stipend to perform speeches that he never gave, Mississippi auditor Shad White said.

Weeks after Favre was mentioned in the audit, SiriusXM suspended his podcast and ESPN Milwaukee halted his weekly radio show. 

Favre said he has repaid more than $1 million in speaking fees for speeches he never delivered and for radio spots that were paid for from the Mississippi welfare fund.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services has filed a lawsuit against Favre, three former pro wrestlers, and other people and businesses to try to recover the remaining millions in TANF funds. The suit alleges that Favre was one of a number of private individuals who sought to siphon off some of the welfare money. 

Court documents from the case show a text message thread between Favre and the nonprofit organization executive director in which Favre appeared to suggest he would direct millions of dollars to the volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

Favre’s daughter began playing volleyball at the school in 2017 and is the fourth winningest beach volleyball player in USM’s history. Favre, who played 20 seasons in the NFL, graduated from Southern Mississippi in 1991.

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Author: Khristopher J. Brooks

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