Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 23 No. 13
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Tina Thornton, ESPN

Photo: ESPN Images
Photo: ESPN Images
Photo: ESPN Images

Last season, when the NFL decided the field at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca was not good enough to host an NFL game and moved the Chiefs-Rams game to Los Angeles, ESPN had only seven days to figure out how to make a move.


That’s when Tina Thornton went to work.

Tina Thornton

Senior Vice President, Production and Office of the President, ESPN

Born: Galion, Ohio

Education: Wake Forest University, B.A., communications; Mercy College, Honorary Doctor of Letters

She immediately pulled a team of people together and figured out how to make the move as flawless as possible. She identified three initiatives where ESPN could help: jump-starting ticket sales, targeting a Hispanic audience that was prepared to watch the game in Mexico and honoring the first responders who were battling fires in the L.A. area. Thornton started talking to the Rams about coming up with a halftime act and other ways to make the game special.

“Tina was instrumental and one of our primary point people on that project, helping to manage relationships internally and externally,” said ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. “She is smart, creative, collaborative and able to handle many important responsibilities at the same time.”

Appointed as Pitaro’s chief of staff in July 2018, Thornton has had a seat at the table for all of ESPN’s business decisions over the past year. 

“Her 25 years of experience at ESPN were immediately valuable to me and the entire ESPN leadership team in every aspect of our business,” Pitaro said. — John Ourand

Getting to know...

Guilty pleasure: Raw cookie dough. Way better than cookies!

Something your friends would consider “so you”: Hosting 20 youth lacrosse players for a practice at my house when the town fields were closed, all after a long week of work.

Attribute I look for when hiring: A problem solver who radiates positive energy.

Woman in sports business you’d like to meet: Serena Williams. As a mother of a 13-year-old, I remember what it was like to jump back into work soon after having my daughter. To focus on multiple passions (work and family) and be successful at both is doable, but can be daunting. I admire her tenacity, her authenticity and her vulnerability as she approaches being a mother and an athlete.