Brett Favre at the center of Mississippi’s biggest scandal in 20 years

Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre is embroiled in a massive welfare scandal in his home state of Mississippi
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Favre is one of the most well-known quarterbacks of this generation. He had a Hall of Fame career capped off with one Super Bowl Championship, three MVP awards, and one golden jacket. Twelve years after Favre’s career came to an end, he is now in the limelight for a much different reason. Favre is at the center of one of the biggest fraud cases in Mississippi history.

How it started

Brett Favre’s scandal is recorded as far back as 2019. Then, he met with various members of the Mississippi state government including then-governor, Phil Bryant and official John Davis. The meeting also included former WWE legend, Ted DiBiase Jr. Favre’s goal in meeting with them was to encourage their involvement in a new Florida-based drug company, Prevacus.

The former NFL star connected himself to Prevacus due to their mission to further concussion research and create a “concussion drug”. Favre felt drawn to their goal and wanted them to relocate to Mississippi, hence the meeting with state officials. The meeting did not end the way Favre hoped. What came next started to raise red flags.

Shortly after the meeting took place, Davis and two others, Nancy New and Zach New, were accused of taking $2.15 million in welfare money to personally invest in Prevacus and a sister company. Brett Favre’s involvement with Nancy New extends further than just Prevacus, however.

Aside from trying to invest in the pharmaceutical company, Favre was also lobbying for donations for a new volleyball court at the University of Southern Mississippi, a school Favre’s daughter happened to attend. The new court eventually came to fruition thanks to $5 million provided by none other than Nancy New’s organization, the Mississippi Education Center.

If that wasn’t enough, Brett Favre also benefited from an additional $8 million dollars of welfare money dedicated to his other professional pursuits, and received $1.1 million dollars for appearances he did not attend. Favre has since paid back nearly all the $1.1 million, leaving the remainder unaccounted for.

Brett Favre pleads ignorance

Phil Bryant, the former governor, was the whistleblower in this case, bringing to light the malfeasance occurring between New, Favre, and others. Favre has claimed time and time again that he was unaware of where the money was coming from. However, he sent the following text to the founder of Prevacus, Jake Vanlandingham.  

“Text Nancy (New) and include me if you want and basically ask her if she can help with investors, grants or any other way possible. She has strong connections and gave me 5 million for Vball facility via grant money. Offer her whatever you feel like.”

It’s not looking great for you, Brett.

When John Davis, the Mississippi official who participated in the original meeting, was eventually replaced with another official, Favre touched base with Vanlandingham again, stating that New told him Davis’ replacement “wasn’t their type”.

“Well we may need the governor to make him our type”, the Prevacus founder responded.

A ripple effect

It goes without saying that welfare money awarded to any state should be dedicated to those struggling, not those living in the top 1%. In 2018, Mississippi received $135 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding. Of that, just $7.3 million went directly toward assisting the families that needed it.

The remainder of the funding went partially towards the entrepreneurial pursuits of those that received millions of dollars a year to play professional sports. What Brett Favre encouraged and allowed was wrong, and people suffered because of it.

What happens now

Since it came to light, Brett Favre’s scandal has continued to progress. Last month, Nancy and Zach New both plead guilty to misusing public money intended to help alleviate the strain of poverty on the Mississippi population. They have also agreed to testify against the other people involved. John Davis is also among the names facing charges.

Two years after this embezzlement case came to light, Favre, DiBiase and two other former professional wrestlers are now among 38 defendants accused of using welfare funds for their own personal gain. Favre is now required to repay more than $3 million in welfare money used over the last four years. Neither have been charged with any criminal wrongdoing at this point.

The case has now been turned over to the Mississippi attorney general’s office. They are expected to seek the repayment of more than $77 million misused funds.

“I applaud the team the team filing this suit and am grateful the state is taking another step toward justice for the taxpayers. We will continue to work alongside our federal partners – who have been given access to all our evidence for more than two years – to make sure the case is fully investigated” state auditor Shad White told the media.

Brett Favre’s scandal is continuing to develop as it moves through the justice system in an effort to right many wrongs. Check back here for updates as they become available.

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