Disney used to hate gambling. Now it’s doing a $2 billion sports betting deal.

What Disney’s ESPN/Penn Entertainment tie-up tells us about sports, pop culture, and the media business.

By Peter Kafka 

Article Reprint

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in the 2023 Super Bowl.
 Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Here’s a story that would have been very, very hard to imagine a few years ago: ESPN, Disney’s sports behemoth, is doing a $2 billion deal with Penn Entertainment, a gambling company you’ve probably never heard of. It’s a striking about-face for Disney CEO Bob Iger, who spent years insisting that his company should avoid anything to do with gambling.

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