Junior Is Headed to the Broadcast Booth
Like Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett before him, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. runs his final Monster Energy Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, he is headed to the broadcast booth. According to an online report in SportsBusiness Daily, NBC has signed the popular NASCAR driver to a multiple year deal starting in January 2018. Broadcast rights for NASCAR Monster Energy Cup and Xfinity races airing on TV and radio are among the most expensive of any sporting event. NBC grabbed a piece of the pie back at the turn of the millennium. Along with FOX Sports, NBC has been airing half of the NASCAR season each year.
Prior to his father's death at Daytona in 2001, NASCAR's most popular driver for the last 14 consecutive seasons was referred to as "Little E". Today, the future hall of fame driver is simply known as "Junior". As one of the richest living racing drivers in the world, Junior was probably less motivated by the money (which could be huge) and more driven to stay connected to the racing fans that stand and cheer every time the #88 car makes a move on the lead. It was pointed out in today's article that Earnhardt Jr. inked his contract with NBC Universal and not just NBC Sports.
The network Dale Jr. signed with is very interesting for what sports fans across the board may see in the future. Most recently, Jerry Punch, M.D., held dual careers as an emergency physician and ESPN broadcaster for NASCAR events. When ESPN was outbid for NASCAR television rights, Punch was moved into a role announcing college football games for the network. However, Dr. Punch had years of experience announcing sporting events on the radio and had actually played backup quarterback under Lou Holtz at North Carolina State. Punch is also credited with multiple life-saving efforts as a physician while being near accident sites as an announcer when the crash occurred.
It is no secret that Earnhardt Jr. is a Washington Redskins fan. He's been caught more than once on camera wearing his favorite team's gear. This fact has some speculating a future as a NFL broadcaster. Due to NASCAR's 23 international broadcast partners, Earnhardt's popularity and instant recognition goes well beyond our borders. As for now, the sky seems to be the limit.