Erin Andrews reports from North Carolina in 2010.
The Haunting of Erin Andrews
It all started when a stalker removed the peephole of her hotel-room door, then stood in the hallway and filmed her for several minutes in the nude. Two years after that infamous video, Erin Andrews still can’t escape it — even though she put her stalker behind bars. As she gears up for college football season at ESPN, she opens up about the public and private battles she’s still waging. At college football games, where she reports from the sidelines for ESPN, she hears fans scream from the stadium, “Hey, I’ve seen you naked!” Erin Andrews gets about a dozen tweets a day, which are continual reminders of the video that went circulated two years ago.
Not that she’s likely to forget, but the video is one of the first things that pops up in a Google search of her name. The video has become part of her everyday life. Andrews has put the stalker in jail, she has lobbied for stronger laws against stalkers, and she has filed a civil suit against the hotel where the video was shot, hoping to spur all hotels to boost their security.
Below you will find an excerpt from the story, “The Haunting of Erin Andrews,” which appears in the August issue of Marie Claire Magazine.
How did you first hear about the video of you online?
I was in L.A., in July 2009. It was the day after the ESPY Awards, and I was meeting with the producers from Dancing With the Stars; they wanted to have me do the show. It had been a great day, and I was about to take a red-eye back home to Atlanta that night, when a friend who works as a blogger in the sports industry called. He said, “There’s this video on the Internet, and they’re saying it’s you, and you’re naked in a hotel room.” I just laughed and said, “Well, that’s not me. I don’t do stuff like that.” He said, “You need to look at it.”
I could feel my heart just literally coming out of my chest. As I was opening my laptop, I felt like I was going to vomit and faint at the same time. I typed in the website address, and all of a sudden, it popped up on my screen. You know your body — you know what it looks like without clothes on — and I just said, “Oh, my God.” My first call was to my parents. I was screaming and so upset that they thought I was physically injured in a car accident. They’re like, “Where are you? What’s wrong?” I said, “My career is over. I’m done.”
How did you cope psychologically with the knowledge that strangers would be seeing you in the nude?
That was the hardest thing. Despite what I do for a living, I am very insecure about my body. I don’t have a complex, but for every woman — I don’t care who you are — there’s a part of your body you have issues with. It was my body, and I didn’t have a choice of how many people got to see it. What people don’t understand is that while I wasn’t physically touched, I was violated.
The day that I got the phone call that this was on the Internet, I didn’t want to get undressed. I didn’t change my clothes for two or three days. I was so screwed up. I was disgusted with myself; I was disgusted with my body, with being naked, and that everybody saw that it was me. I stopped going to my gym for six or seven months because I was afraid of people seeing me working out. I had this mind-set of, “Oh, my gosh, everybody’s seen me naked and they’re going to think to themselves, She should be so embarrassed.”
You’d worked hard to prove yourself in the guy zone of sports reporting. How did men in your industry react?
When this happened, there was a lot of talk about whether I was going to come back, and I had a phone full of messages from some of the best coaches in the country, saying, “Please come back. Don’t let this idiot win. You are what’s right about our game.” So for all those people who say I’m just a pretty face on the sidelines and I don’t deserve to be there, I thought, This is validation.
Yes, my whole reason for doing the show was to get away from my life. I did it to get my smile back. Then Elisabeth Hasselbeck said my stalker should have just waited and he could have seen me naked on Dancing With the Stars, referring to the costumes. That was basically throwing stalking in the face of every victim and laughing about it.
Your stalker is now in jail but gets out next fall. Does that worry you?
That’s something I think about a lot. I’ll need a restraining order. I’m not married; I’m not dating anyone. When I finally have a life and a family and someone who wants to be a part of all this, I’m going to have to explain, “So, my stalker’s getting out of jail …” It’s going to be a different life with him out of jail.
Photo Credit: Tierney Gearon