It’s been a little more than a year since one of the eponymous faces of the ESPN sports revolution left the four-letter network to join Caesars Sportsbook.
Kenny Mayne, who worked at ESPN from 1994 through July of last year, has fast become one of the faces of the American sports betting revolution.
The former host of quirky shows such as Mayne Street and The Mayne Event has traded in his button-down and blazer for a pair of chinos and flip-flops.
Mayne, who played quarterback at UNLV in a past life, feels an almost spiritual connection to the Vegas mainstay, calling his return something akin to kismet.
BetArizona.com had the opportunity to chat with Mayne at the grand opening of Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field about the former ESPN star’s newest venture and his thoughts on sportsbooks in Arizona and beyond.
Below is a transcript of that conversation, edited for brevity and clarity:
A Modern Greeter For Caesars
BetArizona: It’s been more than a year since you left ESPN. How has your time with Caesars Sportsbook Arizona been and what has your post-ESPN life been like so far?
Kenny Mayne: No complaints. I don't regret what happened. I mean, I miss doing certain things there and I missed the people — as the cliche goes, but it's true. I think when I was a kid, you heard about Joe Louis being a greeter at Caesars. That's kind of what I am except I make videos. No offense to whatever videos Joe Louis made back in his day.
So, it's fun, and we're still kind of figuring it out perfectly. Because it was a brand new thing that Caesars almost kind of like overnight, became a broadcaster to some degree, right? Like, through social channels.
And we just kept experimenting; getting to work with the Mannings and Clyde Drexler and Muggsy Bogues and Megatron [former NFL wide receiver Calvin Johnson] and Bobby Flay, and I'm leaving out people we've worked with.
But I went to the Belmont two weeks ago. I’m going to Del Mar in a bit. So, in a sense, I'm still doing some things that I might have done in a previous job. And in other cases, I'm doing more promotional, you know, promotional content; to basically help what Caesars is trying to do just build out their name.
So, if I do something that people like, and it gets any attention that reflects well on Caesars and they keep sending me to fun places, I'm not arguing.
BetArizona: I’m curious to get your opinion on how your new role with Caesars Sportsbook stacks up to where you were when you joined ESPN, given the relative novelty of cable sports in the early ‘90s and the current newness of sports betting in America.
Mayne: That’s an apt comparison. I mean, I joined ESPN 15 years after they'd started, right? In 1979, I was in college at UNLV. My first place I visited was Caesars on my recruiting trip. So, it's kind of funny coming back home in a circle man. But I remember — I'm playing football [at UNLV]. Watching this new channel, I'm like, ‘Who wants sports 24/7?’
I doubted it, and I was an athlete. Right? But obviously people did. And I think you're right that while there's a lot of betting going on and different companies competing, we're still kind of in the young years, right?
You know, [sports betting’s] not in every state and everything keeps expanding what you can do with the different apps. And I'm happy to be involved. It’s fun. It's like being involved in the dawn of the internet or something like Kickstarter, is what it seems like.
So, like I said, I just keep getting sent to fun places to do my silly stories and nobody seems to get in the way of it. They run them when they run them. They use them how they use them. I just keep on producing and throwing out new ideas.
What if we did this? What if we did that? And we have some ideas to do what I would call more conventional, what I formerly did, like longer pieces and find different ways. Everything doesn't have to be one minute on Twitter, right?
Maybe we'll do some really cool 10-minute retrospective on something, put it on YouTube, or maybe it shows up on TV somewhere one day. But since I went to college [in Las Vegas], I used to go to jai alai, which is now Bally's property. It was the old MGM. I'd love to do — looking back — I'm the last jai alai fan in America, I think. But it's such a cool sport. It really meant a lot in my college years. Because it was like our go to — me and the guys on the team and some of my friends.
And you could get in for free the last three games. So my point is, I have like a little piece of my nostalgia for Vegas, right there. And also I was an usher at Caesar's Palace for the old fights right? And we used to roll around Caesar's Palace acting like we were in charge or something.
Mayne Has Arizona Memories
BetArizona: I’ve got to ask you — besides maybe getting to see Guy Fieri himself either today or the next time we come back down here — what's kind of the highlight for you to come down to Arizona and take part in the opening ceremony of Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field?
Mayne: Well, I've been here a number of times. My favorite time previously was when we came here for the Super Bowl and did a story.
It was very complicated, but a member of The Sopranos wanted Super Bowl tickets. And in real life he did. And I was like, ‘I need to really get those tickets,’ and feels like I needed to make it happen.
So, we ended up having a friend of mine from the Cardinals find me the tickets — I had to pay for them — but it turned out [Tony Sirico] couldn't make the trip. In the end, I gave the tickets back.
But in the interim, [former Seattle Seahawks and Cardinals QB Dave Krieg] was on a horse. We blew up a car in the desert and whatnot.
But yeah, I've been here a whole bunch of times for different stories, different events. It's hot as heck. But it reminds me a bit of my Vegas years.
So that part, I was used to. And obviously [Arizona betting apps are] very competitive, with all the different teams and tribes that are involved. But that's kind of fun in a way, right?
It’s kind of like the start of something. We'll see who wins out eventually. Or maybe everybody kind of thrives in their own little lane that they've chosen.